Mamaroneck High School Student Ensembles Perform in Spring Concert

MHS Orchestra members performing in the Spring Concert.
MHS Orchestra members performing in the Spring Concert.
Natalie Lord

On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, various Mamaroneck High School (MHS) ensembles of the Music Department performed in their final concert of the 2023-2024 school year. Traversing a variety of musical styles and genres, high school students in each of the three major groups in the program- orchestra, band and choir- presented to the audience the impactful and complex pieces that they spent months fine-tuning.

The concert kicked off with an induction ceremony for the newest members of the Mamaroneck chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, an international organization that recognizes exemplary high school student musicians for their excellence in both leadership and music. The MHS Tri-M student group is headed by orchestra director Elyse Mullen, who in addition to organizing the ceremony led her students through an impressive orchestral repertoire featuring selections from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen and two special collaborations with the choir. The orchestra also performed an energizing medley of themes from Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Rite of Strings, described by Mullen as “atonal, abstract, and very unsettling to the ears but very fun to play.” The renditions “celebrated the dedication and hard work that everyone has contributed throughout the year,” Mullen notes, reflecting difficult musical concepts and displaying the progress that the student musicians have made since the previous fall and winter concerts.

Second to take the stage was the Mixed Choir, led by director Anne Crozier. The Choir performed a Coldplay mashup and several selections from the acclaimed Broadway musical Les Miserables, accompanied in both by the orchestra. Multiple students from a range of ensembles contributed to these performances, leading Crozier to deem them “a collaboration with the whole music department” that “highlights many solos.” The choir also presented the beautiful a-cappella number “In Meeting We Are Blessed,” adding to the emotionality of the moment as the final performance of the school year. “Year after year, students come together to make music but it’s so much more than that,” Crozier reflects. She added that the experiences of this year go “beyond the notes and rhythms on the page; it’s about forging bonds…once you experience being in the music department, you [understand] it and want to share it.” Crozier portrays the spring concert as a testament to that idea, sharing not only the “dedication and practice” but the “unique magic to making music with others” with the audience. 

The event was also highly anticipated by band director Timothy Hooker, to whom this final concert holds special importance as an embodiment of the commitment and collaboration between both upperclassmen and underclassmen players. “I love the show, as I get to see how players grow so much in their playing…the upperclassmen have the opportunity to experience quality music with challenges while the younger and less experienced players can still learn and be successful,” Hooker reflects. This year, the band opened their segment of the concert with a classic march by John Williams, moving into the “English Folk Song Suite” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, dubbed by Hooker as “one of the best composers in the business,” and concluding the performance with “Africa” by the late Robert Smith. By including a song with an unusual meter (12/8) and choosing pieces with varying keys, Hooker encourages his young musicians to navigate through new and intriguing musical themes. 

Mr. Hooker alongside some of his graduating seniors. (Natalie Lord)

This performance is especially significant for students and faculty as musicians of the MHS class of 2024 take the stage in McClain Auditorium for the final time in their high school careers. “Our beloved seniors are the leaders, the heart and soul and engine of most of our ensembles,” Hooker says. To students in music, the time spent as parts of the music department are especially meaningful moments of their high school experience. “This is likely the last time I’ll be playing music with this group of people,” realizes Finnegan Atkins (’24), baritone saxophone player. Seniors commonly value some aspects of the experience that go beyond the music itself, however. “There’s such a sense of community with other musicians… it’s because of [the program] that I’ve met some of my closest friends,” Atkins reminisced. “I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met through music for the world.”

The common nostalgia of students ended the concert on a sentimental note, with departing seniors giving tearful embraces to the teachers and students that they have grown close with over the last four years. “[The spring concert] is always bittersweet,” Mullen added. However, despite the emotionality of the moment, the MHS music teachers maintain a sense of pride and excitement as they watch students accomplish even more beyond high school. “We smile with joy knowing our seniors are moving on to newer things, which is what life is all about,” Hooker mentions. “We had them for four years! Now we share.” 

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