With the Passion of Music: FLHS Presents the Winter Festival Concert

Francis Lewis hosted the annual Winter Concert on February 3 in the auditorium. The evening of music consisted of three performing groups: choir, jazz band, and concert band.

“Playing in front of an audience after so long felt amazing, and I felt very happy,” sophomore Siri Chikkerur said. “I definitely missed playing in a band, the nervousness before a performance, and playing on stage.”

This is the first year since the COVID-19 began that the Music Department has hosted a full Winter Concert on campus. 

“Playing in front of an audience after COVID definitely made it more difficult to adjust,” junior Daniel Hoffman said. “With COVID, it usually felt like you could control your appearance, including sound when in a group. Not even being able to be in large groups in general was also an obstacle, getting used to being under that sort of pressure.”

After not being able to play in the classroom for a prolonged time, students have rigorously prepared for the concert.

“Preparation for the concert was a bit tough,” Chikkerur said. “I especially had some difficulty playing one of the pieces, mainly because of the tempo. But, practice makes improvement.”

Some students had the opportunity to show off their capabilities and played solos during their performance.

“Playing a solo is very different from performing off of sheet music,” Hoffman explained. “It’s an opportunity to really show off your skills and expression, but a lot more challenging, since it’s mostly improvisation.”

Band members often help each other to improve on their skills and offer constructive  criticism during rehearsals.  

“My fellow flute players helped me whenever I needed help,” Honors Band and Jazz Band member Myu Kim said. “They provided me with some of the music sheets that I can play to challenge myself as well.”

“I was excited and also nervous about this concert,” Kim added.  “For the jazz band, I had a solo for the first time. It was great experience but I wish I’ve done better.”

Challenges were also faced before the event, when preparing the songs that were played by the Honor Concert Band and the Jazz Ensemble.

“For the Concert Band, finding the material was challenging,” music teacher Mr. Jordan said. “This year, I didn’t have a lower brass and clarinet, so you’re kind of limited. For jazz, not too much, you know, because I knew that whatever was that I needed, I had former students come in and do that.”

Mr. Jordan shared his experience and advice on overcoming these challenges. 

“You just learn how to deal with it,” Mr. Jordan said. “Whatever problems come up, the experience of it happened before, so you have solutions. A lot of what some people consider problems you’ve already figured out. So that’s the experience. Knowledge, you know, what works and what doesn’t work.”

Choir teacher Ms. Gjermeni also shared the challenges she faced preparing her students for the concert.

“I think the biggest obstacle, the only one that I perhaps do always encounter, is approaching the style,” Ms. Gjermeni said. 

“Certain notes need to be emphasized more than other ones, and it’s a process that you grow through, you know, as you listen and you perform and you study music,” Ms. Gjermeni said. 

“Once they know the song, they know the melody, they know the lyrics, they think, oh, we’re done with the song.  I try to convince them that’s when the real work starts and the fun starts.”

Gjermeni continues to keep challenging her students and teaches them to “make it attractive and alluring in a way that the audience connects to the song.” Students in the audience were very pleased with the performances. 

”In my opinion, it was very worth it because I fell out of touch with classical music for a long time,” sophomore Isabella Miao said. “This concert motivated me to continue listening to different styles of classical music.”

Ms. Germeni chose different musical pieces that ranged from the 17th century to the 21st century. Having a great passion for music and arts, she gave her thoughts on her experience and inspiration.

”I have my own saying,” Ms. Gjermeni said. “I always tell my students, keep music in your life. You will never regret it.” 

“Many years ago, actually, I read a saying from a German philosopher, Friedrich Niche,” Ms. Gjermeni said. “He said, without music, life would be a mistake. I was so connected with that saying. I said, oh my God, it is so beautiful. And, you know, through the years as I worked, and as I taught many students, I kind of came up with my own.  Keep music in your life. You will never regret it.”