PELHAM, N.Y. - The Pelham Memorial High School bands mesmerized a packed middle school crowd of family and friends during their winter concert Thursday night. They performed holiday favorites such as Christmastime is Here and Carol of the Drum, as well as classics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Walk Like an Egyptian throughout the hour-plus, 15-song event.
It was great, said music director, Campbell Whitford. Im really happy with it. Its a challenging concert with a lot of different types of music. I thought the kids played really well.
Danesh Banavar, uncle to freshman mallet player Amiti Banavar, came from India to see his niece play.
We were very happy to be here and see her perform, said Banavar. They did awesome. It was just really awesome. I wish a lot of kids in India had a similar opportunity to do things like this. Its not so easy.
The concert, which featured solo performances, guest conductors, and countless instruments, captivated the crowd.
However, the students were faced with a major rehearsal hurdle while trying to learn how to play the difficult music.
Weve never been all together because of the way scheduling is and we meet at 7:30 in the morning, said Whitford. They come in 45 minutes before school starts. Thats a commitment, but it shows.
Noah Peck, who plays the drums, did not mind waking up early to practice.
You gotta like what youre doing if you want to wake up that early to do that because its not easy to do that, said Peck. Most of us really do love it. It really doesnt even feel like that much of a burden when you have to wake up early.
Peck was nervous going into the concert because he was not sure how the rest of the instrumental groups would sound.
Its difficult now because youre very nervous, said Peck. Youre doing it in separate groups, so you never know how good the other group is, or if theyre going to mess up one part. Usually, you practice it so you know you wont mess up. So if you practice in your groups and you know you wont mess up, everybody thinks they wont mess up, and then usually it sounds terrific.
Whitford graduated from Pelham Memorial and has been teaching there since 1972. In terms of what has been the most rewarding part of his job, his answer was quick and easy.
Watching the kids play, said Whitford. Watching how they grow musically and how they come together and play a piece of music. Thats it. Thats what music education is about.
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