Preparations are well underway for the Senior School Large Ensembles Concert, to be held at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium on Wednesday, February 7. This is the premier concert of our musical year, showcasing 165 choir, band, and strings students.
Our repertoire includes a song from the Maritimes, a traditional South African melody, classics from Beethoven and Sibelius, and a grand finale, Danzon No. 2 by Mexican composer Marquez, featuring 110 string and band students on stage.
Danzon No. 2 is an important piece to note, it is a monumental work that combines Latin rhythms, playful solos, robust sections for strings, and moments of furious percussion and majestic brass. We discovered this piece during our music tour to Cuba at Spring Break in 2023, and upon hearing it played by the Cuban National Band, we fell in love with it.
The piece required long-term thinking, planning, and rehearsing. For two months we rehearsed winds and strings separately, then put small classes together, and finally we combined the full forces of 110 student musicians for large ensemble rehearsals in the new year.
This professional score features solos by clarinet, piccolo, oboe, piano, violin, and trumpet alongside complex ensemble writing with constant changes of key, metre, and tempo. We have asked a great deal from our students as they learned the piece, and pushed them to new heights in their technical playing as well as their musical awareness. Ms. Guillén and I will both have the opportunity to conduct this piece as we plan to perform it on several occasions starting with our February 7 Large Ensembles Concert.
The concert takes place at the UVic Farquhar Auditorium on Wednesday, February 7, 7:00-8:45 pm. Tickets are free and are available from the UVic Ticket Centre. It is recommended that tickets are booked in advance, as seating is reserved. The livestream will be available at smus.ca/live.
Watch a video of rehearsals of Danzon No. 2 below.