Niles School District 71 is proud of its music programs. To understand why, you need look no further than the Winter Concert held Dec. 21, 2016, at Culver School.
The concert showcased several of the school’s top instrumental ensembles as well as singers from the 4th and 5th grades.
“I am so extremely proud of all the work our students put into this program,” said choral director Christine Dworak. “This was a collaborative effort between the administration, students and teachers.”
The evening kicked off with three pieces played by the 10-member Strolling Strings: a “Little Russian March” by Peter Tchaikovsky, the Hungarian folk melody “Sleigh Song” and “North Pole Workshop”—the last featuring special guests Principal Peggie Maniscalco on wood block and Superintendent John Kosirog on power drill.
That was followed by the 17-piece Jazz Band, which played “Tequila,” “Zoot Suit Riot” and a modern take on another Tchaikovsky composition, “Nutcracker Rock.”
Midway through the concert, students from the 4th and 5th grade general music classes repeated the program they had performed two weeks earlier at the Niles Senior Center to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day. Approximately 120 students delivered renditions of a variety of songs, including “A Song of Peace,” “Because of You,” a medley of military tunes, “One Light, One Sun,” “When the Flag Goes By,” “This Is My Country” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Next up, 40 string players in the Concert Orchestra directed by Elizabeth Lemons played an arrangement of the traditional Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne,” a selection from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet music and “Boreas: The Cold North Wind” by Todd Parrish.
“Culver’s great orchestra program allows students in grades 3-8 to be exposed to a wide array of opportunities to engage in rewarding musical experiences and life skills,” Lemons said. “We work on developing proper technique, ensemble performance skills, musical expression and knowledge of music theory and history—all while having fun in a nurturing, collaborative atmosphere.”
The final section of the concert featured the 35-member Concert Band under Hans Lindemann playing “Entry of the Gladiators (Thunder and Blazes),” “Clarinet Calypso,” “Hanukkah Begins Tonight” and “Deck the Halls with Old Composers.”
“Participating in music is a lifelong activity with many benefits,” Lindemann said. “When I asked some of my 8th grade students about the benefits they’ve noticed, they said that the effort they put into learning their instrument not only gives them a gratifying musical experience, but along with the effort of getting to early morning rehearsals, making up missed class work during pull-out lessons and making the time to practice at home, it has helped them to become better and more responsible students.”
Culver School offers students the opportunity to play in instrumental music groups ranging from beginner to advanced levels, with band open to students starting in 4th grade and orchestra beginning in 3rd grade.
The groups practice throughout the year in before-school sessions on weekdays from 7:10-7:55 a.m. and in small-group pull-out sessions during the regular school day.
Besides the Winter Concert, the same ensembles also perform at a year-end concert in May. Other performances throughout the year include a field trip to St. Benedict Nursing Home, an “Orchestra Odyssey” with high school musicians, concerts by beginning and intermediate groups in fall, winter and spring, and a combined performance by the Concert Band and Orchestra at the 8th grade graduation ceremony.
All photos copyright © by Marina Samovsky Photography.