Hailey Noble ‘24, Maxximus Khanacharoen ‘24, Alexander Tolentino ‘24, and Pauline Fernandez ‘24 look at music before the Guitar Ensemble winter concert, recreating the Beatles famous album cover.
Hailey Noble ‘24, Maxximus Khanacharoen ‘24, Alexander Tolentino ‘24, and Pauline Fernandez ‘24 look at music before the Guitar Ensemble winter concert, recreating the Beatles’ famous album cover.
BRETT BILLS ’26

Guitar Ensemble’s First-Ever Concert Performance Becomes a Strumming Success

The Edison High School auditorium waited on Thursday, December 21, 2023, as the Guitar Ensemble, an afterschool club, took the stage for their first performance in school history. The ensemble, comprised of students under the direction of Teacher Mr. Andrew Jaworski performed “Christmas Time is Here,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” and “Sleigh Ride” for the audience.

Ensemble president Alex Tolentino ‘24 and ensemble publicist Pauline Fernandez ‘24 took on the opportunity to organize this event.

President on the executive board, Tolentino said, “It’s been a fun job to handle.” For Fernandez, who also plays guitar in the ensemble, it was a chance to share the guitar ensemble with the school.

The concert itself featured a mix of holiday favorites and more challenging pieces. The audience swayed to “Christmas Time is Here” from the Peanuts special and enjoyed the family melody of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker. They also got a taste of the ensemble’s technical ability with a spirited rendition of “Sleigh Ride.”

If you are ever interested in playing the guitar, pick it up right away,

— Mr. Andrew Jaworski

“Going from ‘Christmas Time is Here’ to ‘Sleigh Ride’ was hard but also exciting,” says Fernandez. “It was like going from easiest to hardest.”

However, the path to the stage wasn’t without its obstacles. Balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities is challenging, and the Guitar Ensemble is no exception. Fernandez reflected on the attendance at the practices, while Tolentino acknowledged that practices conflicted with staff development days, and transportation became an issue.

Despite the challenges, the ensemble persevered. One of their main goals is to show that Guitar Ensemble isn’t just about classical music.

“The guitar ensemble is more than just classical pieces we learn in Guitar 1,” said Tolentino. “We have been introduced to many different styles and modern pieces as well.”

The driving force behind the Guitar Ensemble is Jaworski. When asked about the ensemble, Jaworski is clear: the Guitar Ensemble is here to stay and develop over the many years to come.

For Jaworski, the concert was a chance to showcase the ensemble’s growth.

The guitar ensemble is more than just classical pieces we learn in Guitar 1

— Alex Tolentino ‘24

“The winter concert is something new that we tried this year, and hopefully we will have concerts outside of school in the future,” he said. “The ensemble has been around for 11 years, but we’re always looking for ways to expand the program.” This concert sets a precedent for doing bigger events in the future, including outreach programs at universities such as Kean University.

Putting together a concert in the winter season presented unique challenges. They had a limited time to prepare, and the students were just getting back into the swing of activities after Winter break.

“It was like shaking the rust off,” said Jaworski. Despite time constraints, Jaworski has fond memories of the concert. He expressed that one of his favorite moments was seeing his students perform “Sleigh Ride,” a particularly tricky piece from their program. He also enjoyed the diversity of the setlist.

According to the Guitar Ensemble, this first concert is just the beginning. Tolentino shared that the Guitar Ensemble has a tradition of playing “Lord Bless You and Keep You,” a tradition passed down from Jaworski’s days singing in high school choir.

For students considering joining the Guitar Ensemble, Jaworski has a simple message:.

“If you are ever interested in playing the guitar, pick it up right away,” Jaworski said. He acknowledges the challenges of learning a new instrument but encourages perseverance. Fernandez emphasizes the importance of attending practices and suggests taking the class to be more involved.

The Edison High Guitar Ensemble’s debut is encouraging for the program’s future. With continued support and dedication, the ensemble hopes to perform in concerts outside of Edison High, and also continue the Executive Board positions.

If interested in supporting them further and following their journey, find them on Instagram at @ehs.guitarensemble.

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