By Skye An
On March 7, 2015, Brooklyn Tech’s orchestra and concert band were among the many NYC high schools performing at the NYC Honor Music Festival. With a spirited performance marking the hard work of Tech’s orchestra and concert band, the following students demonstrate that Brooklyn Tech can do more than just academics and sports.
Under the leadership of Jamie Baumgardt, the current Director of Orchestras and the Performing Arts Coordinator at Mark Twain Intermediate School (I.S.239), Tech’s orchestra sharpened their skills in preparation for their performance which involved playing three songs: Fiddle O’ Finnigan Concerto in G, Opus 51 #4, and Marche Slav.
Tech’s concert band performed under the guidance of David LaMorte, the Assistant Principal of Visual, Performing, and Career Arts at Tottenville High School in Staten Island. The performance included four songs: Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March, “Festivo” for Symphonic Band, The Blue and the Gray, and Hollywood Milestones.
Members of Tech’s orchestra and concert band demonstrated immense dedication to the festival as they attended rehearsal immediately after school for several hours on a Friday, the day before festival, and then early in the morning on a Saturday which had all culminated to the actual performance later that day. Despite the many tests, projects, and homework these Tech students had to deal with, they had all nonetheless put in the time and effort to do their part in making the NYC Honors Musical Festival a success.
Since its initial creation four years ago in 2011, the NYC Honors Musical Festival aims to show parents, educators, and fellow students that music is an integral component of schools as it provides a creative outlet and acts as an extension of music teachers and students alike.
Breanna Flynn ’17 said, “Mrs. Baumgardt was my teacher in Mark Twain and she taught me everything I know. Her conducting was fabulous and she taught us so much! Her animated personality made the festival extremely fun, and it was especially funny when she taught us musical curse words such as “pluck”, or “son a bridge”. I loved working with her once again, it brought back great memories. I miss her already!”
Lihao Song ’17 said, “Our conductor was super friendly and funny. She made sure every section performed at their highest potential. I look forward to working with her again.”
Samuel Donis ’15 said, “The Honors Music Festival was amazing. The orchestra which I played in was great, the concert band was stellar, and the jazz band really had me moving. I’m glad that I was a part of something so spectacular. The only sad part is that I’m graduating this year, so I won’t be able to participate next year.”
Leo Houts ‘17 said, “The music festival was super fun! We had a really good conductor shaped us up in just two days. She even fixed my bow. It was great.”
Mrs. Lapierre, Tech’s orchestra conductor, was also in attendance at the festival to support her students and observe the other high schools performing. “We were up against performing arts schools, such as Frank Sinatra, Talent unlimited, Tottenville, Celia Cruz, and others, and three of our students got the solos with Tech’s own Judy Zhang being declared the concert master. This speaks volumes for the talent and hard working students at Brooklyn Tech. My son mentioned to me that when we walked in and I waved to you guys on stage, that 3/4 of the stage waved back. How awesome is that! We’re an engineering school and we are surely one of the best orchestras in NYC. Sitting back and watching you perform was breathtaking. The bowings were precise, the pitch was great, and the solos were so clear, delicate, and beautiful. It was fantastic. Many people in the audience yelled “bravo”. Even Mr Fischer was impressed. The band hit a few clunkers (bad pitch), but they were very good. I teach in a very particular way, for a very important purpose. I make the students feel as though they are in a relaxed environment. This makes them feel comfortable and less stressed. I get more out of the students than a teacher that is too strict. I make music fun and I try to pick very famous pieces that you can handle, so when you grow up you can say, I remember playing that piece when I was in my teens. I can accomplish more with students that are engaged in class performance because they want to be. Our class is twice the size of a regular orchestra, and many of our members have no lunch, so they eat in that first 10 minutes or so before we begin. It should be 28-30. We’re 65. Most conductors can’t handle that. Most students don’t want to handle a full work load and orchestra if they’re stressed, yet here at Tech, we have students that still take on both anyway.”
Tech performed last year at the festival as well, and its students in the orchestra and band hope to continue to perform at venues such as these for many years to come.