Thursday, October 13—Microphones hung from the stage, lights were lit, music stands and chairs in position—now all that awaited was an audience. Stray strands of harp, timpani, piano chords, excited voices, and tuning pitches could be heard as the students made the final touches before the crowds arrived for the Annual Fall Concert in the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Theater.
Once Winsor community members gathered for the morning’s Assembly, Winsor student musicians and performing arts faculty, dressed in concert black, arrived on the stage to an enthusiastic audience as Ms. Brady-Lopez, head of performing arts, addressed the gathered audience. “Music starts with the composer’s idea, and musicians work towards bringing the composer's idea to life,” she shared. “You are participants in the process in hearing those sounds take place,” and advised the audience to pay close attention to the mood, tempos, and variations in the different pieces to appreciate them more fully.
The Lower School Orchestra (Classes I–IV), led by Ms. Connor, started off the program with Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, No. 1, arranged by Ms. Connor. Emily Chen ’29 and Zola Tierney ’29 introduced the context of the piece, which was inspired by the styles and patterns of folk dances from Bohemia. The orchestra played beautifully, bringing out rich deep tones from the low strings, a pastoral middle section featuring solo flute and violin, and ending with an exciting crescendo.
In between sets, transitions were masterfully managed by the Class IV technical theater course, who wheeled in timpani, tubular bells, xylophones, and other percussion instruments for the Upper School Chamber Players, and later on, wheeling pianos in and out and making room for chorus risers. The Class III stagecraft course was in charge of transforming the theater into a concert hall.
Also led by Ms. Connor, the Upper School Chamber Players performed Ms. Connor's arrangement of Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi’s “The Merry-Go-Round of Life,” the main theme from the 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle. As student presenters Natalie Pan ’23 and Charlotte Holmes ’26 introduced, the music “carries a distinct harmonic minimalistic style, compared to the feeling of floating.” The piece began with a beautiful harp solo, performed by Amelia Kwak '25 and poignant flute melody performed by Iris Shen '26 before ushering in a more militaristic feel punctuated by the timpani, played by Talya Le '24. Different sections took turns with the melody and harmony throughout the piece.
Changing musical styles, the Upper School Percussion Ensemble gathered with special guests Maya Freifeld ’26 on electric bass, and faculty guest Ms. Spear on alto saxophone, with Ms. Brady-Lopez on percussion. The performance on xylophones, marimba, and concert bells featured a catchy melody with swing rhythms, a walking bass line, student solos, and a soulful and adventurous saxophone solo by Ms. Spear.
Next on the program, the Class III and Class IV Descants embodied collaborative music-making in action, as four Lower School string orchestra musicians joined the choir (dressed in black and white) for the opening movement of Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in D. Led by Mr. Marshall and featuring Ms. Brady-Lopez on electronic harpsichord, the students sang beautifully. Following the first performance, the students changed styles for an arrangement by Mr. Marshall of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World,” featuring student solos by Sarah Finkelstein ’28 and Madeline Forry ’28.
Following the Descants were three pieces from Illumina, the Upper School choral ensemble. The selections began with a piece by 19th century Boston composer Amy Beach set to the Emily Dickinson poem, “The Moon is Distant From the Sea.” The choir skillfully navigated the many dynamic changes and entrances with musicality and sensitivity. The following piece, “Disney Medley 2,” arranged by Mr. Marshall and building from the beloved "Disney Medley 1" from last school year
, featured popular themes from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
, and Snow White
. Solos from students Paige Whalen ’24
, Ava Kee ’23
, Nidhi Mallavarapu ’25
, Jeremiah Hickman-Maynard ’23
, and Sophia Gerogiannis ’23
elicited enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience. Finally, Illumina performed “What Happens When a Woman” by Alexandra Olsavsky (of the group Artemisia,) immediately attracting the audience’s attention with stomping, clapping, and snapping. Singing, “what happens when a woman takes power?” the students delivered a powerful performance, which included a solo from Sofia Grabiel Butler ’23
, by layering voices and enforcing the message of women’s empowerment.
Closing out the program was Senior Small, with multiple solos by Sophia Gerogiannis ’23, Anissa Patel ’23, Jeremiah Hickman-Maynard ’23, Chloe Chao ’23, and Ava Kee ’23 during Mr. Marshall’s arrangement of “My Girl,” which was a beloved hit with the crowd.
A special thank you to Ms. Brady-Lopez, Ms. Connor, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Puigbo, the technical crew, and the entire Performing Arts Department.