Memento Torrey: the TPHS Fall Concert

Photo courtesy of Caden Jiang

Bow drawn, the “devil” fiddler envisioned by Camille Saint-Saens in his song, “Danse Macabre,” prepares to strike.

Although the undertaker for this melody of death, Caden Jiang’s (11) thirteen years of playing his violin goes beyond this one solo. The first dissonant notes Jiang plays sets the mood of the piece — a frantic and frenzied symphony of wrath. As the rest of the orchestra pizzicatos in, the notes become the rattling bones of the dancers.

Next to Jiang, Velana Valdez (12) runs her hands across her harp, composing herself through her fluid movements. With players like Jiang and Valdez, along with other star standouts, Orchestra’s first performance was a strong one.

Despite her calm demeanor, Valdez’s eight years of harp-playing has seen its fair share of stage fright mishaps.

“Last year, it was really bad because before my first performance, my hands [were] kind of paralyzed 10 minutes before. So I was scrunching this napkin, and when I took it out, my hands couldn’t move,” Valdez said. “I’m pretty calm, but it’s my body that gets nervous.”

The autumn journey began with “Pictures of Fall,” a warm, fluttery piece performed by the choir, followed by a song of the same aura with “Fly Away Home.”

Tenor Chris King (12) finds solace in the rest of his group while performing.

“Everyone gets stage fright to a certain extent, but the fact that you’re in a choir helps you alleviate a lot of that. I don’t really feel nervous because I’m just going with the flow and singing with people next to you … it’s a very shared experience,” King said.

Choir’s performance finished off with “This is Me,” featuring two belting, triumphant solos by Addi Romero (9) and Raisa Tuerxun (10).

Wind Ensemble’s magical delivery of “The Seal Lullaby” highlighted everyone’s performance, from the swelling low voices of Sneha Lele (10) on the baritone, to the light twinkle of the bells played by Ethan Crawford (9). Debuting his piano performance for the Wind Ensemble, Joshua Yu (11) delivered sweet cadences to give the piece a Disney-worthy finish.

The end of the night was topped off with a performance from TPHS’ famous jazz band.

Vocals by Libby Bezdek (12) and Courtney Demos (12) soared throughout the auditorium. “One More” was a favorite of mine, with peppy beats, a perfect balance between flowy and structured, with dazzling solos by Victor De Oliveira (12), Jason Nguyen (12), Sri Ujjini (12) and Will Demos (12).

As a senior, Nguyen reflects on his time in jazz band.

“This year and towards the end of last year I turned [my amp] up a lot more. Mrs. Gelb helped me with my confidence playing and now it’s a lot more fun,” Nguyen said. “It’s hard sometimes, being a senior, knowing that you’ll leave and you won’t play with these people again. I think it’s more exciting than sad because I get to look forward to how much more we’ll grow as a band.”

One of the most notable performances during the night was “Feeling Good,” which was dramatic, moody and painted jazz in a different light. Bezdek’s voice complimented the song with on-point movements and hauntingly low notes before the rest of the band swiftly joined in.

Traveling from the “Pictures of Fall” to “On The Street Where You Live,” the many sounds of the TPHS Fall Concert swept audiences from one atmosphere to the next, truly painting all the reds, oranges, and browns of fall.

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