Combined Newton North and South Winterfest Concert Is a Major Musical Accomplishment

Photo by Sam Lee

By Chloe Frantzis

Managing Editor of Arts

This past Thursday night, a major milestone in the Newton musical community was reached. For the first time in five years, Newton South and Newton North’s choirs and orchestras combined their talents to put on a performance on a scale most high schools could never dream of.

The performance lasted around two hours and consisted of some orchestral music, some choral music, some wind music courtesy of certain members of Newton South’s Wind Ensemble, and– most importantly– several combinations of all three. The event was also lucky enough to see the presence of Boston Lyric Opera’s Heather Gallagher, who stepped in as an understudy after the original performer fell ill.

The concert took place in the Newton North auditorium and, while appearing effortless, was the product of an enormous amount of planning, time, and effort on the part of the educators involved– most notably Newton South’s Jason Wang and Ben Youngman and Newton North’s Adam Grossman. All the groups involved were lucky enough to be able to meet with their cross-school counterparts, either at North on Tuesday North or during school on Wednesday.

Despite the meticulous planning that went into the event, the organizers were thrown a curve ball when special guest Sandra Piques Eddy of the Metropolitan Opera House in Boston became unable to perform at the last minute. Fortunately, Heather Gallagher, another talented opera singer who performed with the South group at a concert on the previous Thursday, was available to fill the void.

Now, after all that drama was settled, the night opened with Newton North’s Family Singers performing “Il Est be Lest Bon”, a French madrigal. Newton South’s Madrigals then followed with “Ballet des Ombres”, a haunting tune also in French. The orchestra and wind players then dove into “Près des Ramparts de Seville” from Carmen, the classic opera by Georges Bizet, and then followed with “Prélude”, “Aragonaise”, “Intermezzo”, and “Les Dragons d’Alcala.”

These pieces are classic orchestra tunes, and many of the melodies are quite familiar, even if you don’t recognize the titles. In between “Aragonaise” and “Intermezzo,” Gallagher came out to perform the most iconic songs from Carmen, the “Habanera,” which included orchestra, wind instruments, and the full chorus. Gallagher’s voice soared over the auditorium, and her power and elegance made for an exciting and energetic atmosphere, which in turn inspired the musicians and singers to perform at their very best.

The night ended with another famous tune from Carmen, which was was performed by the everyone except Gallagher. “Toréador’s March” was a clear showstopper, and ended a wonderful concert on an extremely high note– literally and metaphorically.

Overall, the decision to combine North and South’s amazing musical groups in one magnificent concert was instrumental in so many ways. Not only did it allow for musicians and singers all across Newton to share a common passion, but it united the two schools to create something beautiful in a time when standing together has never been more important.