Annual Rhapsody tunes into holiday season


photo by Sarah Hinnant

Freshman John Lee plays his clarinet at the annual Rhapsody show on Dec. 2. The clarinet section played a student arrangement of “Running Up that Hill.”

Circling the audience, the band played out their final tune of “Come Together” by the Beatles. After filling the auditorium with a night of holiday classics and movie scores, the annual Rhapsody concert on Friday, Dec. 2 showcased the band’s different sections and brought a challenge to their student leadership.

“The goal is to allow each section to be featured individually to highlight the individual characteristics of their instrument,” director Brian Kuperman said.

As the concert aims to increase student leadership and camaraderie between the individual sections, multiple challenges were brought to the performance groups. Through Hurricane Nicole and Thanksgiving break, the sections lost necessary practice time, leading their leadership to find some creative practice spaces, including the Riverside Skate Park.

“I met up with my best players at my house a couple of times because their part was so much harder than everyone else’s that I wanted to perfect them before I moved on to everyone else,” tuba section leader Eshan Kabir said. “Then, we did a full rehearsal at Riverside Park, which was very informal, but helped everyone understand the music and the roadmap of the piece a lot more.”

While the individual sections were challenged by their scheduling conflicts, the directors also worked to push the concert, wind, jazz and symphonic bands’ techniques through variations of toccata, pace and style changes.

Over the years, the musicians of the band have stepped up and taken responsibility for themselves,” Kuperman said. “Because of the hard work and effort of the students, both Mr. Kuperman and I can focus on the large ensemble performances [concert and jazz bands] without worrying about each section.”

Student focus laid in arranging their section’s music, with songs like “Running Up That Hill” and the theme from “Howl’s Moving Castle” in the mix. While the pieces had to be approved by both directors before the concert, leaders were still able to put their own twists on their pieces to better showcase their instrument.

“I used my knowledge of each specific person in my section to create a piece built for them and them only,” Kabir said. “No other group can really play it; I tried to make it so that each person would bring out the best sound they could.”

After weeks of rehearsal and coordination among the different sections, the concert was able to highlight their individual talents and bring holiday cheer to the audience. With holiday classics like “The Christmas Song,” featuring a student on vocals, the concert showed the diversity of the band’s scores and ability. 

“The concert went well for all of the ensembles,” Kuperman said. “No performance is perfect, but for all groups, I felt it was the best they had performed each piece.”

For many section leaders, Rhapsody was one of their last concerts, with the final spring performance approaching soon. With pressure, dedication and focus, the leaders worked to make this their best performance possible for both their section and themselves.

“I had done Rhapsody before, but this was finally my year, playing my piece, so all the responsibility lay within me,” Kabir said. “To be able to create something beautiful by working together is an experience I’m grateful I could give to each and every one of them.”