Top 5 PV Music Classics

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Meg Byrne

The 2018 Iowa All State Chorus performs at the state-wide music festival.

Erika Holmberg, Copy Editor

Throughout the hallways of PV, various melodies can be heard drifting from the music classrooms. Between band, choir and orchestra, there’s a lot of music to go around. A majority of the repertoire performed by these ensembles is fresh and new, but there are a few well-known traditional pieces that many remember from year to year. 

This list provides a variety of timeless pieces that the PV music department is known to perform close to every year. 

 

Band

      1. “Angels in the Architecture”

First performed in 2012, this transformative piece is one of the staples of the PV Band’s repertoire each year. Composed by the legendary Frank Ticheli, it pairs the two realms of human life and the divine: good and evil. 

The piece begins with a soprano vocalist, acting as an angel calling to her band. Beneath her melody, the low winds begin to stir, slowly growing louder and louder until an abrupt stop, where the band plays in loud unison. The rest of the piece indecisively fights between the good and evil in a heap of chaos in the journey of travelling to a state of ultimate divinity. After a layering of the woodwinds, brass and percussion, a final glory call establishes a final state of existence before the soprano re-enters for her final calling, ending the piece in wonder and awe of the great beyond. 

Favored for its dramatic musical effects and challenging part assignments, this advanced piece features nearly every instrument in the ensemble. Effects such as brass flutter tonguing, horn muting, percussion whirly tubes and flute whistling are unique to this piece and embody the evil spirit hidden between the sweet freedom of the melodic divine. 

Head band director Drew Anderson enjoys the technical challenges of this piece. “Performing this piece seven times now can get a bit monotonous. Exploring the different nuances in this challenging piece of literature keeps it engaging. The students also enjoy the level of difficulty the song has to offer.”

Angels in the Architecture is a long time PV band favorite. If you ever have the chance to attend the annual Senior Night concert, you can expect to hear this piece for many years to come. 

      2. “Sleigh Ride”

This winter-time favorite is a classic holiday concert tradition, embodying the magical spirit many experience in the snowy season. 

This thrilling, fast piece feels much like one would while riding in an actual sled, with dramatic dynamics shaping the path of a snowy hill. 

The percussion section is greatly highlighted in this piece with wood blocks replicating the sounds of a reindeer hopping on someone’s roof and a muted trumpet solo at the end impersonating a reindeer’s call. One might even see a few red Santa hats across the stage during this festive celebration!

This festive piece is a well-loved holiday classic. Be sure to grab some apple cider and donuts from the concert refreshment table while you listen!

      3. “Machu Picchu–City in the Sky”

Centered around the significance of the remarkable Machu Picchu, Satoshi Yagisawa’s thrilling, history-inspired piece has made its mark on the band students of PV. 

Similar to Angels in the Architecture, Machu Picchu features every instrument in the ensemble with vigorous part assignments and challenging techniques. Sporadic, random entrances throughout the piece paint a perfect battle in honor of the Incan Empire, leading up to a final brass statement imitating the presence of Machu Picchu.

Senior Arsh Manazir remembers this piece with sadness, as it was one of the final pieces of music the PV Band got to practice together before COVID closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. “[COVID] was a very emotional time for all the students, and it could be heard in our playing. As I played through this piece with a heavy heart, I realized the impact that music has on emotions and all of our lives,” he proclaimed. 

The emotional connections students have made to pieces such as Machu Picchu can explain why they have remained relevant through the years. 

 

Choir

      1. “Hallelujah Chorus”

Signature to the annual Choir Holiday Concert, the Hallelujah Chorus is one of the longest PV Choir traditions to date. Closing the Holiday Concert for more than 27 years, this grand piece is a highly anticipated performance at PV.

Per tradition, the Hallelujah Chorus is the final piece sung by all choirs at the end of the Holiday Concert every year. Unique to the piece is that family and friends are invited onto the stage from the audience to join along in a united song. 

Head Choral Director Meg Byrne appreciates the PV history behind this piece. “When I first performed this piece with the Choir, we simply had our upperclassmen Choir perform with any PV Choir alumni audience members. This slowly grew to incorporate all audience members who wanted to join, in addition to whichever ensembles were present for the second half of the concert.”

Whether performed by 50 or 500, the Hallelujah Chorus is a symbolic end to the Holiday Choir Concert every year. 

      2. “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a powerful piece performed at many district and state choral events. Its symbolic melody paired with a full orchestra makes it a challenging and exciting piece of literature. 

This powerful piece is sung every year at the graduation ceremony. It is also featured every year at the prestigious Iowa All-State Music Festival, unifying the Honor Band, Chorus, and Orchestra. This sense of unification allows for a musical celebration, usually being placed at the end of the program for dramatic effect. 

What makes this piece unique is the separation of soprano and bass lines, typically alternating for dramatic effect. Each voice part takes turns building the triumph of the story until a final calling is sung together, establishing a sense of unity and strength. 

From the graduation ceremony to the All State Music Festival, the overall sense of togetherness created by this piece makes it a favorite at every choral event.