The big band takes the stage

Melissa Thatcher, who has conducted the band for 17 years, leads the band during their Winter Instrumental Concert.


            On December 20, over eighty student musicians took to the stage to show off their talents in the Winter Instrumental Concert, directed by Melissa Thatcher. The concert featured a selection of winter and holiday themed songs performed by different groups of musicians. 

            The show opened with performances of “O Holy Night” and “All is Calm” by the full orchestra. “For the first time in Old Bridge history, we put the band and the strings together to make one giant orchestra,” explained Thatcher, who has directed the winter instrumental concert for 17 years. “That was about 80 musicians and, overall, was amazing to listen to.”  

            The band students had practiced and worked to prepare for this project since September. “I put a lot of time and effort into practicing. I worked hard at home, in Strings class on A days, and … I practiced during my lunch period,” shared senior cellist Preston Peng who played a solo on “All is Calm.”  

Junior Patrick Chuah, 1st Chair flautist, plays with the Wind Ensemble.

            The concert featured eight solos, two of which were performed by trumpeter Zachery Dogbaste during “A Fireside Christmas” and “All is Calm.” He explained, “It took several class periods for me to learn it. It wasn’t too difficult to learn. The hardest part about it was just knowing when to start playing and figuring out the right volume.”  

            Despite thorough preparation, many of the performers were struck by nerves before or during the show. “Before I performed, I was so excited. However, on the day of the concert, I felt extremely anxious when I stepped up to the piano. My hands were even shaking for a bit,” divulged freshman Charlene Leung who soloed during “All Is Calm” on the piano. “As I played, I began to calm down, and I lost my sense of nervousness.” 

            The students expressed their satisfaction with all they have achieved. “I think the concert went great!” said trombonist Nesty Dogbaste. “We all had fun playing and we were very proud with how far we’ve come because some of the pieces were very difficult.”  

Senior Anthony Silvestri and freshman Hailey Spiro play “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” on their vibraphones with the Percussion Ensemble.

            The level of difficulty involved only seemed to increase the pleasure the student felt from their achievement. “Overall, I think the concert was spectacular. I am proud of how much we have achieved because at first, we were struggling with one piece,” said Leung. “However, we kept practicing and made a lot of progress. And because of everybody’s hard work, we all played extremely well!” 

            Thatcher agreed that seeing the students perform at such a high level made the preparation all worth it. “My job I think is the best job in the world. I teach kids how to play music,” said Thatcher. “I mean what’s better than that? I come to school every day and see these kids ready and prepared to learn. One thing I love is that they all show love and have passion for music and this concert really show that.” 

Posted on 1/24/23 

Photos by Lors Photography

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