Bedford’s Orchestras Take Guests on a Vertical Musical Journey Around the Eastern Hemisphere

March 22, 2024

The John Glenn Middle School gymnasium was filled with people on Wednesday night enjoying a night of music during the Bedford Public Schools Performing Arts Department’s Strings Vertical Concert. This came one night after the Band Vertical Concert entertained another full house.

One of the unique features of this spring’s vertical concerts from the past was the arrangement of the musicians. Rather than playing on the Bedford High School stage, each of the grade-level bands was arranged in their own section of the JGMS gym floor. Wednesday’s concert, with seven different ensembles, from grades four through senior high, playing a total of 15 pieces, took only an hour from start to finish. With the new location and set up usual breaks of moving one band on and off of the stage and rearranging chairs and music stands between transitions was eliminated, saving lots of time.

Lane School and BHS Director of Strings Brianna Creamer was thrilled with how the vertical concerts on both nights flowed with families filling the stands and lining the available walls supporting the student musicians.

“I’m extremely happy and very proud of the team who worked to put this program together,” she said.

One of the benefits of attending this concert, according to Creamer, is that the students and audience experienced the progress of each of the age-level orchestras.

The music from each of the orchestras, from grade four through high school, helped create a delightful evening of entertainment.

The theme of the night was “Music from the Eastern Hemisphere.” The program included two world premieres. The BHS Chamber Orchestra performed “Rhapsodies Concertantes: Seven Fisherman’s Dances,” a work by Jason Coleman, commissioned by Creamer. Coleman and Creamer know each other from their time together with the New England Philharmonic. 

The piece is a collaboration between Coleman and the solo oudist, BHS graduate Datev Gevorkian, a member of the Class of 2020. 

Coleman said the first movement was performed in 2018 – then the pandemic came along. Wednesday night was the debut of the next section. This piece incorporates an Armenian folk tune with Baroque counterpoint and traditional classical instrumentation. 

The concert closed with the combined 5th through 12th grade orchestra students playing the debut of Coleman’s arrangement of “The Persian March op. 289,” which was originally composed by Johann Strauss. This work features folk tunes from modern day Iran. This multi-level arrangement was selected to help fill a gap in the repertoire for school-aged students that features music from the Middle East.

Mia Falco, Kyra Shen, Matt Shen, and Zack Shen on percussion enriched the performance of the piece.   

The two works by Coleman were partially funded by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council (a division of the Mass Cultural Council) and the Bedford Patrons of Music Students (POMS).

Other concert highlights included pieces featuring Hannah Yang, Soon Hee Newbold, Jiyoung Um, and Leanne Darling – as well as music from Angola and Jordan. 

Deniz Ocali was a soloist on violin in the JGMS Fiddle Club’s version of the Turkish tune – Yine Bir Gül Nihâl Aldı Bu Gönlümü. Directing the JGMS strings was Lauren Hart. 

Soloists on the Grade Seven and Eight Orchestra’s rendition of Ahlan Sabaya Alfarah, an Arabic dance, were Ryan Zhu, Veronica Decerbo, Erin Dumadaug, Reena Bao, and Asel Chiou. Matt Shen and Zach Shen were on percussion.

Adding piano accompaniment for the evening was Natan Wythe.  

Next up in the Music Department: The MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental Choral & Conductors Association) Concert Festival, which takes place April 4-7. The Bedford High School chamber orchestra will play from 4 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 5 at Danvers High School.

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Wayne Braverman is the Managing Editor of The Bedford Citizen. He can be reached at [email protected], or 781-430-8837.

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Charlene Monte
March 22, 2024 7:38 pm

Lauren Hart was my student! So you can only imagine how thrilled I am to see her success!

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