The music program in the South Orange-Maplewood School District is strong and growing.
That’s according to Maplewood Middle School Director of Bands Christopher Balas, whose claim was backed up by some deft performances by five ensembles at the MMS Winter Concert tonight.
Balas introduced the program by telling attendees of the “wonderful phenomenon” in the school district: “Our music program is growing!” he said, noting that this year’s 6th and 7th grade bands were the largest he has directed in his seven-year tenure at MMS. Balas was effusive about his 6th graders, who, though newly united, were playing very well together. “I’m very proud of everybody here,” Balas said of his students.
Balas later remarked that the 8th Grade Wind Ensemble was playing the longest piece that he had ever directed at a winter concert (“Sparks” by Brian Balmages). Balas said the ensemble “responded wonderfully” to the challenge.
When he introduced the brand new Honors Wind Symphony, composed of 7th and 8th graders (6th graders will be able to audition next week), Balas said, “It’s such a joy to see the birth of this ensemble.” Balas explained that the new ensemble came about “because of the wealth of talent” in the district.
Woodwind Specialist Kaitlyn Walker later directed the Honors group in a performance of “Loch Lommond” by Frank Ticheli. Walker noted that the piece was recently performed by an ensemble at Columbia High School and was a frequent selection for professional groups — attesting to the advanced nature of the group’s abilities.
See the Honors Wind Symphony playing “Acclamations” by Ed Huckeby, directed by Christopher Balas:
Click on any photo to enlarge: