WWS Fall Orchestra Concert

Gretchen Goldsborough , staff writer

Wheaton Warrenville South High School hosted its annual Fall Orchestra concert in its auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The theme was “Spooky Symphony” and the concert most definitely got everyone into the Halloween spirit. The concert gave the audience its first opportunity to hear from four separate student orchestras (Concert, Chamber One, Chamber Two, and Sinfonia), which is a distinct change from previous years, when interested students could enroll in just three separate orchestra groups (Concert, Chamber, and Sinfonia).

A unique piece played by Concert Orchestra, “Waltz of the Wicked”, written by Kirt N. Mosier, started off loud and lively. Right away, the glissandos added by the musicians created a cool but eerie effect to the piece, engaging the audience. 

Later on, Chamber One and Chamber Two joined together to play Brian Balmages’ “Phantom Tangos”, which displayed a variety of rhythms, unexpected shifts in dynamics, and different playing styles. A “phantom sound” was produced through the use of dissonance and sudden dynamic changes in certain areas of the piece.

Chris Thomas’ “Phantom Waltz”, a song performed by Chamber One, featured four cello soloists, Charlie Benard, Sydney Cortez, Ryan Kempker, and Ben Bastianen. Inspired by a forgotten ballroom in Shanghai, China, the piece transported listeners to an echo of the past. With colorful accidentals, the plucking of strings, and other dramatic effects, a beautiful but chilling melody was expressed.

Chamber Two’s first song was “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” which is a combination of two separate songs that both date far back. “Scarborough Fair” is a traditional English ballad and “The Canticle” is an excerpt of a piece written by Antonio Vivaldi, and the two songs gained a new audience in the 1960s, when the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel recorded their version of “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.”. Chamber Two’s final piece was “Frolicsome Finale” from Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony”. This piece opened up with a sudden burst of sound and continued in an exciting and playful manner like the title implies.

Sinfonia ended the concert off with the third movement of Antonín Dvořák’s “Serenade for Strings”, which featured a fast and animated tempo as well as shifts between major and minor keys. The melody was passed around to different sections of the orchestra, and there were frequent recurrences of themes and notes.

There was much good to say about the performance. Chamber One violinist Olivia Martinez reflected on her admiration of Sinfonia, and how “the piece [Sinfonia] played was so beautiful.” Orchestra director Allison Chang thought the concert was “definitely a good first step” for this year and explained how it also revealed what “we as an orchestra can continue to work on.” Chang remarked on how, “it was a great opportunity to bring everyone together” and to spark “excitement for the next performance.”