What is Japanese folk music? Celtic rock? Mark your calendars for the Spring Instrumental Music Concert to find answers to those questions as well as what it really sounds like “When the Rhinos Do the Rhumba in the Rain.”
Middle and Upper School students of GPS and McCallie have been preparing for months, learning music that ranges from Broadway show tunes to classical masterpieces. The concert opens with “Sakura,” the aforementioned folk music, and concludes with the powerful “New World Symphony” by Dvorak. Other notable moments include Mozart’s turbulent “Amadeus,” a compilation medley from The Lion King, and the emotional Christina Perri ballad, “A Thousand Years.”
“Each piece is a highlight for me as I consider how diligently the students worked to learn it,” says GPS Orchestra Director and Music Instructor Mary Baxter. “Seeing progress with a piece brings me joy, and as each piece is mastered, the students are visibly excited, hearing the harmonies fit together and understanding the rhythmical challenges.”
The concert will feature performances by the GPS Beginning Winds & Percussion Class, Sixth- and Seventh-Grade Strings Class, GPS Advanced Middle School Orchestra, GPS/McCallie Middle School Wind Ensembles, GPS Senior Orchestra, and GPS/McCallie Honors Orchestra. Seven seniors will make their final Frierson Performance with this concert: Olivia Combs, Jack Wu, Colby Henry, Ruchi Patel, JieJun Stowell, Nick Hmeljak, and Griff Richardson.
The performance will also highlight newcomers such as Ella Beth Wiedmer ’25, who plays violin in the strings class. With no formal training beyond her elementary school music class, Ella Beth has become proficient with an instrument widely considered to be the most difficult to play.
“Mrs. Baxter is such a great teacher, she makes it easy to learn,” Ella Beth says. “It’s unbelievable how much better you get in one class. You can come into this orchestra and know nothing about music, and become an expert in any instrument you want to play."
While class time is rewarding, the opportunity to showcase their skills on stage is an exciting prospect says Evelyn Lytle ’23, who plays flute in the Middle School wind ensemble.
“I really like playing in front of people,” she says. “It’s great to play in class, but when you get to play for an audience, it’s really cool.”