Putting Their Best Foot Forward, Off the Field and Onto the Stage




Head band director Marc Denicuolo directs Edison’s Wind Ensemble

Edison High School’s band program, led by director Mr. Marc DeNicuolo and assistant director Mr. Joseph Ciappina, held its annual winter concert on December 8, 2022. The performance consisted of ten songs presented by three ensembles and a featured group: Concert (Freshmen) Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, and a brass quartet.

The night began with the Concert Band, starting with Larry Clark’s “Kinetic Energy.” After bringing the concert into motion with this whimsical, fast-paced piece, the performance was followed by a refreshingly candid introduction from DeNicuolo, giving the audience a point of reference for the freshmen band as they face a whole new world of music, making the shift from middle-school repertoire to much more challenging high school projects.

The next song, “Chanukah Celebration” arranged by Sandy Feldstein had a bit of a squeaky start, but the band soon gained strength as they fell into the booming march of the song. This song is a good marker to note the progress from recent middle school graduates as well as to look back on after the spring concert.

The third and final song Concert Band performed was “Strange Pursuit” by Ralph Ford, a song the group had been working on since September. It started off strong and with a unified sound. The woodwinds and brass held a beautiful dialogue, simultaneously a dispute and a friendly meeting between the two. This song was exciting to listen to and a great victory for the members of the Concert Band!

After the Concert Band portion, DeNicuolo welcomed the members of the brass quartet: David Hernandez ‘24, Alicia Hudson ‘24, Christian Amann ‘24, and Douglas Sabosik ‘23. Featuring solely brass instruments with one person to a part, this chamber ensemble performed “Caprice in G Minor” by 20th-century composer Clair W. Johnson. As the title “Caprice” suggests, the piece consisted of moving lines and exclamatory motifs to invoke a sense of liveliness and symbolize a desperation to act. The members of the quartet worked independently to assemble this piece, and through their consistent efforts, achieved the musical unity necessary to energize the caprice, providing for a vivacious listening experience. 

Shortly after, the Symphonic Band, consisting mostly of sophomores and juniors, transitioned onto the stage. Their selection consisted of Erik Morales’ “Soaring!,” James Curnow’s arrangement of “Bell Carol Fantasy,” and Frank Erikson’s “Sonatina for Band.” Through floaty flute lines and staccato eighth notes, “Soaring!” allowed the audience to fly, landing at the next piece with ease. “Bell Carol Fantasy,” which is based on a traditional Ukrainian bell carol, added some spirit to compliment the holiday season and intrigue the audience with familiar tunes. Overall, the varied genres–contemporary, holiday, and classical–maintained interest through variation, anticipation, and curiosity as these contrasting works showcased different types of music.

Reflecting on their performance, the musicians savored their favorite moments and began setting goals for themselves in the future. Adedoyin Ayeni ‘23, a member of the Symphonic Band, said, “The band concert this year was well performed by each of the groups. Personally, my favorite piece was Sleigh Ride because of the interactive and fun aspect from the percussion as well as the trumpets. I was also fond of the brass quintet. I think personally I want to perform a duet or solo of sorts so I need to improve on my tone and phrasing.” 

The final group of the night was the Wind Ensemble, and as a select group, it did not disappoint. The first song, Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Flourish for Wind Band,” was a song that just kept building a beautiful cooperation between brass, woodwinds, and unwavering percussion. “Chorale and Shaker Hymn” by John Zdechlik, a whopping ten-minute song, was a real challenge in stamina, but the Wind Ensemble was up to the task. The song was an extremely fun listen; it maintained a recurring theme of the shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” while adding various new twists, making the song altogether new yet satisfyingly familiar. There was a palpable clarity of sound that made it all the more majestic. 

The aforementioned “Sleigh Ride” was certainly the highlight of the performance. A well-known classic and a fan favorite, the song was a wonderful ending to the concert. Mr. DeNicuolo visibly loosened up with his conducting for this song, creating an atmosphere for both band and audience to have a little more fun with it. “‘Sleigh Ride’ was my favorite because I could run around,” joked percussion student Peter Loeffler ‘23. The wind ensemble sounded beautiful, but Loeffler was the true highlight of the piece, trotting upstage to downstage repeatedly to crack the “whip” of the wooden clapper.

In the end, the musicians were proud of their work and the audience was thrilled. “Preparing for the concert can sometimes be grueling… but what we put out to the audience members as soon as we get on stage is something that’s unforgettable,” said Kyle Alviar ‘24, a member of the Wind Ensemble.

The concert lasted about an hour, the perfect amount of time to give the audience a small taste of the band’s capability, leaving the audience hungry and excited for more in the future. The winter concert acted as an appetizer to the main course of the music we’ll encounter in the spring, so we hope to see all the students’ hard work pay off in the coming months!