The rest of Southern Connecticut’s campus may have been eerily quiet, but Garner Recital Hall last Friday was filled with cheers. With a wildly successful year under Music Haven’s belt and new projects on the way, the vibe at its winter concert was more like a party than a concert.
After Haven String Quartet opened with a lush rendition of Vince Guaraldi’s now classic “Christmas Time Is Here,” students new and experienced showed what they could do, how far they had come in the year, how well they could play together—and how much fun they could have doing all of it.
After each piece on the program, a lively mix of Suzuki repertoire, Christmas carols, and other numbers, the people on stage got a burst of shouts and clapping, from families and fellow students alike.
A particularly delicate rendition of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” from Sania Eichler, Adina Salahuddin, Ayana Salahuddin, Blanche Filipczak, and Olivia Zlabys brought down the house.
The more experienced ensembles settled into a set of tangos—the Phat Orangez reprised their “Tango para Cuerdas” while the Alimauza Quartet assailed Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango”—that stretched the players’ technique and audience members’ ears.
Cellist Philip Boulanger led the Harmony in Action Orchestra in a rousing, textured take on “La Bamba.”
To end the concert, the entire Music Haven program, plus a few audience members, took a joyous romp through “Ode to Joy.” Executive Director Tina Lee Hadari conducted the ensemble from the railing of the ramp to the stage, baby strapped snugly to her chest. It ended, as all the pieces ended, with an explosion of cheers and applause.
Students and families then flowed out into the hallway for a potluck. “Please make sure that you introduce yourself to one person you don’t know,” Hadari said. “Our family is getting really big.”
Bigger, and stronger, but still as close-knit and celebratory as ever for what kids can do with music.