In the days leading up to the final stretch of school, a cacophonous racket of brassy trumpets blending with angelic violins flowed from the Buttner Auditorium. The CPS music department was rearing up for its first indoor performance since 2019, complete with a packed house of musicians and performers from Jazz Band, Orchestra, Chorus, and Advanced Vocal Ensemble.
Tech and rehearsals had gone well—the orchestra, which had long dreaded staying after school until past when the sun had dipped below the tree line, were pleasantly surprised when Mr. Chiorini, the conductor, released them an hour before the scheduled dismissal time.
At 7:00 PM on the 17th and the 18th of November, the doors to Buttner Auditorium swung open, and an assortment of cookies and snacks greeted the chilly audience members who were waiting outside, trying to catch a glimpse of their peers. Once the lights dimmed and everyone’s cell phones were silenced, the concert kicked off.
It began with Chorus, who sang four songs, ranging from Caterina Assandra’s Duo Seraphim, an early 17th-century Motet, to a version of Yesterday, by Paul McCartney, arranged by Amarachi Ezekwe, a member of the choir and the class of 2023.
Then followed Jazz Combo—a conductor-less, advanced band of Jazz musicians who played two songs with great solos from many group members.
After a smattering of applause came Advanced Vocal Ensemble, or AVE, who sang five diverse and beautiful pieces, ranging from a traditional song from Newfoundland to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.
After that, Mr. Chiorini took to the stage in his black formal shirt and pants (the dress code expected of most musicians) and said a few words iducing the Jazz Band, who followed by playing three funky tunes filled with slick solos. The Jazz Band pulled out a classic song—Moanin, with that iconic Baritone Sax riff.
After the Jazz performances, the auditorium's bright lights came on for intermission, and the audience shuffled out of the hot auditorium and into the embrace of the cold Oakland night for more cookies and refreshments.
With the hall now vacant, the Orchestra unpacked their violins, cellos, and clarinets, set up their pianos, and warmed up their chilly fingers and joints. They played a challenging set, Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso, originally from his L'estro armonico, composed in 1711. Mascagni’s angelic Intermezzo, from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana, followed the Vivaldi, and seemed to become an audience favorite. Lastly, the Orchestra played the fourth movement of Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite—a classic for any student orchestra in the past 100 years.
Lastly, members of our community, including students, parents, and even some brave faculty members (Go Minh!), supplemented our sound by joining the guest chorus. Together, the Choir and the Orchestra performed the iconic Hallelujah Chorus. Although I had played this piece many times before, it was special to be joined by both my friends and teachers on stage. At the very end, the full force of the Jazz Band reemerged from backstage to join in the James Bond Suite, a collection of iconic James Bond movie themes, from the classic Dr. No theme to Adele’s Skyfall. The night ended with Mr. Chiorini’s classic gratitude and wish for everyone to drive home safely.