Twas Twelve days before Christmas, when all through the Rose,
Everyone was stirring, shaking snow off their clothes.
Their tickets in hand, they rushed to their seats,
To hear the Concert Band play some Yuletide beats.
Christmas Time is Here! And with it comes wonderful nights of musical merriment. On Saturday December 13th the Brampton Concert Band (BCB) came to the Rose Theatre to spread some holiday cheer. The theme of the night was “Through A Child’s Eyes.” The inspiration for this concert came from composer Chris Bernotas, a friend of the BCB’s conductor, Vince Gassi. He has written several songs, including one performed in the concert as the title selection of the night, Through A Child’s Eyes. While Bernotas himself was not able to attend, the BCB decided to have a little technological fun and introduced him to the audience via a projected Skype call. During the call Bernotas introduced the piece and described its inspiration, which came from his young daughter Ashlyn with the innocence and peacefulness of a sleeping child. Using this piece and others selected for the evening, Gassi created a concert to awaken our inner child and remind us all of the magic of Christmas.
The evening was filled with a delightful music selection. There were childhood Christmas classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, songs of olden days such as Selections from the Nutcracker Suite, and even newer family favourites like A Home Alone Christmas. Amongst musical guests, this pattern blessed the stage. One guest group, the Brampton Youth Concert Band, delighted the audience with childhood songs of all eras, from Candlelight Carol to Jingle Bells and finally a medley of songs from The Polar Express.
The other guest group, the Brampton Music Theatre (BMT) troupe, became a personal favourite after seeing their latest production, Les Misérables. Over half of that cast joined in as vocal accompaniment with the BCB as soloists, duets, and even full choral productions.
All of the singers were spectacular! I was particularly impressed by the duet of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Time Is Here sung by sisters Grace and Julia Pulo, who played young Cosette in Les Mis and Annie in Annie respectively. These young actresses surprised the audience with remarkable soprano voices, both in their quality and in the sheer height of their range.
Another favourite was Grown Up Christmas List sung by Andria Angelosante, who played Fantine, and Nick Cunha who played Marius Pontmercy. This song brought tears to my eyes and was perfect for the night’s theme. Though the theme was “Through A Child’s Eyes,” this song came from the heart of an adult, asking Santa to bring a happier world for all of humanity. I recommend that everyone listen to this song at Christmas; it’s honestly worth it.
Perhaps the most enjoyable experience of the concert was the collaboration between the BCB and BMT. Near the end of each half of the show, the BCB played a medley of carols and the BMT would sing along as a choir. To make it fun, we in the audience were encouraged to sing along as we had been given lyrics to the five songs featured in Holiday Favourites, including Jingle Bell Rock and Frosty the Snowman.
It was also interesting to see the group of musical actors working together as a choir. In drama, an actor’s ambition is to perform in a way that showcases his or her individual talent. But in a choir, things must be far more communal. They have to work in harmony with one another and weave each voice into one collective whole. Otherwise everything unravels into a mess of voices trying to outshine each other. I can certainly say that they were successful in this endeavour. Their performance as a choir was quite enjoyable to listen to and sing along with.
Music truly has a way of awakening the soul. For the BCB, they wanted to use the gift of music to release our souls’ inner child. It was a goal that they achieved fantastically; but for me it did much more than that. Hearing a concert band again made me long for my teenage years when I was in my high school band. There is such a special feeling when playing in a band. You are no longer yourself, but instead one piece of a great mass, like a symbiotic community bringing music to life. Listening to the BCB made me want to grab an oboe and jump on stage with them! After the show, I spoke with one of the trombonists and told him about this feeling that their group inspired in me. He said that any aspiring musicians are always welcome to join the BCB. I’m not going to lie; with such a welcoming attitude the BCB seems like a great opportunity for us band-loving Bramptonians to get back into music. Anyone care to join in?
By Laila Zarrabi Yan