Two Winter Sketches
Brian Balmages has put a contemporary spin on classic favorites, "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Jingle Bells" in our first multi-movement work. The composer states that the first movement draws from the Romantic musical period, including rich harmonies, while the second movement draws from the Baroque period. Our second movement is definitely an ear-opener, as Mr. Balmages takes the well known "Jingle Bells" and changes both its harmony and rhythm from those we have grown accustomed to in our holiday celebrations.
Classic bits and pieces
A piece arranged by Michael Story, this show-stopper includes bits of many famous songs for strings and symphonic orchestra. These pieces include "The Hallelujah Chorus" (Handel), "The Surprise Symphony" (Haydn), "William Tell Overture" (Rossini), "Russian Sailor's Dance" (Gliere), "Sleeping Beauty" (Tchaikovsky), "Largo" from the New World Symphony (Dvorak), "Swan Lake" (Tchaikovsky), "Can-Can" (Offenbach), and "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven).
This is by far the most difficult piece that we have attempted in sixth grade this year. Not only does it flit from piece to piece after each 4- or 8-bar phrase, but it requires each section of our orchestra to team up and "hold their own" against the other sections. We used this piece to begin learning about dotted-quarter rhythms as well as reviewing our work on slurs.
Jazzy old saint nick
To close our 6th graders' program this evening, we have yet another twist on an old favorite. This piece takes "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," which is included as an exercise in our Essential Elements method book, and has the student orchestra switch between playing the piece traditionally and plucking their strings, pizzicato. The piano helps students along, twisting their carol into a jazzy rendition of the classic before helping them end in a rousing finale!