Tradition Triumphs at the Famous PHHS Holiday Concert

PHHS band and choir perform at the concert. Photo courtesy of PHHS.

PHHS band and choir perform at the concert. Photo courtesy of PHHS.

Zach Solon, Assistant Editor/Podcast Leader

It was an evening of spirit, an evening of hard work, and most of all, an evening of tradition. On Wednesday evening, December 9th, a crowd of over 400 parents, teachers, and other music lovers filed into the auditorium for the annual PHHS Holiday Concert. Although Hills students were given a small preview of the concert during the day, the real magic unfolded on Wednesday night. The program began with the Chamber Choir’s performance of Thomas Weelkes’s “Strike It Up, Tabor.” After a great arrangement of holiday tunes, the Chamber Choir finished their performance with Jacob Narverud’s arrangement of the hit song “Pompeii” by Bastille. The Chamber Choir works hard during the day at Pascack Hills, and their hard work was certainly displayed as they began the show at the Winter Concert with a spectacular performance.

The Concert Choir was next to perform, featuring some of our school’s most dedicated and talented singers. Beginning with “Ding Dong! Merrily on High,” the ensemble of thirty-five sent holiday cheer ringing throughout the building. Next on the Concert Choir’s list of ear-pleasing tunes was “Bidi Bom,” which featured choir member Hana Song’s beautiful accompaniment on the piano. To conclude their performance, the Concert Choir sang the familiar tune, “All of Me,” featuring a stunning solo by freshman John Giardina. As they exited the stage to a round of applause, the members of the Concert Choir smiled at the pleased audience.

During Pascack Period, one may be walking through the upstairs A-Wing of the school and hear the sounds of music being made… but without instruments. These sounds are those of the PHHS A Cappella ensemble. To put the crowd into the Christmas spirit, the A Cappella group, consisting of seventeen vocally artistic students, performed “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Deke Sharon. The joyful song featured five soloists: Nuala Cleary, Olivia Bulzomi, Grace Liriano, Grace Johnson, and Gianna Lucido. Without the help of any instruments, the singers in the A Cappella ensemble created an amazing song that warmed the hearts of all listeners.

Believe it or not, our own teachers have musical talents of their own. After the three student choirs completed their performances, the Faculty Choir, composed of twelve PHHS staff members, took the floor and dazzled the crowd with a performance of Mac Huff’s arrangement of Mariah Carey’s hit song, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The song featured our amazing choir director, Ms. Elkin, on piano, along with everybody’s favorite drummer, Officer Cruise, on the drums. Ms. Elkin has worked incredibly hard with her choirs throughout the first half of the school year to put together the wonderful performance that was displayed at the Winter Concert.

Once the voices had settled, the members of the PHHS Concert Band, with their instruments, took to the stage. Once they were warmed up, the eighty-four members of the Concert Band prepared to play the selections that had been chosen for them by the band director Dr. Bill, who was conducting his 32nd Winter Concert at Pascack Hills. The band opened with “Folk Song Suite,” a three-movement piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The movements, each containing their own featured instruments, worked together to show the crowd just what the Concert Band could accomplish. After the ten minute “Folk Song Suite” concluded, the band appealed to the audience by performing selections from the movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The range of emotions throughout the song (enhanced by eye-popping lighting effects) took the crowd on a roller coaster ride. Next, the Concert Band shifted to a more holiday-oriented selection, “Hanukkah, Festival of Lights” by Howard Rowe. The arrangement featured a solo by senior clarinet player Riva Goldberg, who gave a memorable performance at her final Winter Concert at Pascack Hills. Under the direction of Dr. Bill, the Concert Band truly did an amazing job at the 2015 Winter Concert on Wednesday night.

Tradition became the main focus of the night during the grand finale. For years, Georg Friedrich Handel’s “Hallelujah” has been performed by both the band and the choir to end the night, and this year was no different. All four choirs were invited back to the stage to join their fellow musicians in a synchronized and unforgettable rendition of the song. Together, over 150 Pascack Hills students and teachers, under the very skilled direction of Dr. Bill and Ms. Elkin, performed “Hallelujah” in such a way that any audience member will recall the performance for years to come. As the musicians took a bow, the band played the holiday hit, “Sleigh Ride” as the audience made their way out of the auditorium. The PHHS Winter Concert was a night to remember, and it will be exciting to see what else our band and choir have in store for the rest of the school year.