By: Tatiana Clarke
On October 16th, the day of the Chamber Night began as the last few parents trickled into the auditorium, taking their seats. As Mrs. Simas stepped onto the stage to open the show with a little speech, the crowd burst into applause. You can feel pride and joy in the air as the long-awaited night has finally arrived. For the students, however, performing is only a small part of this journey. The rest of the journey is getting to this point, all the preparation for around 5 minutes on stage. For many of the performers, those five minutes mean everything.
As the school year began, everyone attempted to assimilate themselves into their new schedule. The students from the music department found themselves scattered around the room, as well as trying to find the perfect song.
Stepping into a student’s shoes, this is how the preparation for the next month goes: First, The students get their assigned instruments and their method book to practice. Second, those who have not practiced their instruments must reacquaint themselves with their instruments and sheet music. Third, comes the stressful task of finding the perfect piece, and this step is not as simple as picking your favourite song and playing it. It requires finding sheet music and transposing (changing the key or making the pitch higher or lower for yourself). Lastly, then comes practicing, which is considered to be the most challenging part for musicians. This step requires determination and commitment to keep yourself from buckling under the pressure. With the final chamber night evaluations ever so close and the performance just the blink of an eye away, the tension builds to the utmost level. Once this journey reaches its end, you walk onto the stage under the hot, bright lights. Showcasing all your hard work that manifests itself in the at Chamber Night that pays off and forms the beautiful music that one has created.
The event started with the most extensive performing group of the night; Jazz ensemble, who performed “Blueberry Jam” by Rick Stitzel. The crowd warmed up as they tapped their feet to the smooth rhythm. Most of the members of the jazz ensemble are older students who wish to have an added challenge. However, one of the students named Pearson Bell is a junior who, although not being required to be in the concert, decided to be involved in numerous performances.
“I was still a junior, but I was playing in a senior activity. So it felt like it put more responsibility on me.”
The third-last performance of ONE OK ROCK’s song “The Beginning” performed by Kai DiCarlantonio was particularly spectacular. The jaw-dropping performance began, and within moments Kai was playing with such passion and skill. He played with ease, anticipating every motion and power of his when hitting the drums were so impactful that you could feel each hit pound within your chest. After the concert ended, all the students returned to the music room to talk about their performances. Mrs. Kreiner, a former music teacher at Forest Hill C.I., told the whole group that seeing and listening to his performance brought her tears of joy. The passion you have for music is something that comes from within. It is a need to express yourself in ways that words cannot suffice. Performances like this one are genuinely what stars are made of.
The concert had so many different styles of music, keeping the audience always engaged. A break from the more classical and jazz-oriented pieces came when Angie Gjika and Isabella played a fun modern pop song called “Cheerleader” by Omi on the baritone and trumpet, respectively. Thus, bringing smiles to many students’ faces as the song brought them back to circa 2015. Even weeks after their performance, students are still walking down the hallways finding that song stuck in their heads.
The final performance, “Spain,” performed by Nikoletta Mino. On Bass, saxophone, and guitar played by Elliot Schrider. Finally, Rasam Zakeri on drums and auxiliary percussion. This final piece was 8 minutes long, and that is not including the speech time. In their eight-minute performance, they all had multiple solos in which they could all have their time to show off the practice they had put into this performance. Some of these solos were even created on the spot. Remarkably, the whole song was performed by memory. The transitions between saxophone and guitar by Elliot must be noted. He was aware of how much time he had to switch, and he did not seem fazed in the slightest. Professionalism and the level of smoothness in their performance was a great way to end the show. Also, a great way to show that Forest Hill’s music program is something to be very proud of as a falcon.
As the night drew to a close, smiles were found on the faces of students and parents alike. Overall the night had been a success, and everyone was pleased with the outcome. Moments like these indeed show the heart of Forest Hill C.I.’s music department. As not only a place to learn an instrument but as a community of people that you can turn to and a safe space in which you can feel comfortable to express yourself. When Nikoletta was asked what her favourite part of Chamber Night was and why she replied
“The people that I performed with, the environment that I was in. I wasn’t stressed because people were laughing, and people were practicing together.”
When asked the same question, Mrs. Simas answered saying
“Watching Kai’s smile was my favourite moment. He just smiled big. He had a grin. You could tell there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. That’s what it’s about. That’s why. It [chamber night] represents what it’s about. It’s not about a mark, not even about learning. It’s about letting yourself experience that joy of music and just letting go of all of that stuff. Just letting it be about the music, and only about the music. It felt like at that moment, that’s what it was about for him.”
This feeling of being focused on the joy of music was felt throughout the performers and the audience. It was a genuinely transporting experience for everyone.
Many students who are not in any music classes will often not even know where these classes are located. As the music department is in a wing of its own, slightly separated from the rest of the school. According to Mrs. Simas, “We [The Music Department] are the school’s best-kept secret.” However, whether you are a music student or not, the music department has a lot to offer. The experience of being involved in such a beautiful community is something every student should experience during their four years in high school. If you happened to miss the incredible Chamber Night, be sure to attend the Celebration of Music Concert on December 12th or Coffee House on November 11th.