For the first time since December, Malden High School small ensembles performed, this time with new pieces to ring in the spring with fresh, popular, and contemporary music. On Thursday night, May 4th at 7:00 pm, students, family members, and music lovers met in the Jenkins Auditorium to watch instrumentalists from various grades and skill levels to showcase the pieces they had been practicing throughout the second half of the school year.

Junior Jenny Do on guitar performs with an Ensemble. Photo by Toby Pitan.

Introducing the concert, Erin O’Brian Mazza, the small ensembles teacher, explained how it was “neat to see different creativity levels...and have everyone come together to make music.” This concert was also bittersweet for Mazza as she had to say goodbye to many seniors who would be graduating and leaving the class. At the end of the concert, to bid her seniors farewell, Mazza gave each of them a gift and recounted personal stories about them or told how much she cared for them. After, a particular group of students whom had been particularly close with Mazza presented her with flowers to thank her for all the work she had put into bringing them where they are today.

What is interesting about the small ensembles class is that their music taste is current, fresh and changes with the seasons. In December, the class had performed some mellower pieces ranging from classical to old rock. For this concert they had prepared music from a plethora of genres, artists, and decades.

A performance of “Airplanes” by B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams. Photo by Toby Pitan.

Sophomore and guitarist Santiago Portillo explained that one of the songs he performed with his ensemble, “Redbone” by Childish Gambino, “was a really popular sound, but it [didn’t] have that pop sound to it.” He explained how he thought that the audience may have found this song more relatable than a pop song and that it was “something everybody can listen to.” Portillo also added that it takes a while for band members to find a song to learn and that they “always argue until they find the right song,” but they chose that piece because it stood out from other pop songs today. Portillo said that he really liked this class and how  it “gets involved with the school a lot” and that it’s a class where “people can just play what they want to play with people that they want to play with.” He adds that in that in this class they can pick their own music and curriculum while in other classes there is a set curriculum to be followed. In small ensembles, students “guide themselves and the teacher is just there for a little help.” Finally, he said that the part of the class teaches leadership as well as presentation skills. There are deadlines to be followed and they must lead themselves and their own group.

Senior Won Andre gifting Erin O’Brian Mazza with flowers and giving a short speech. Photo by Toby Pitan.

Another instrumentalist, freshman Moez Bensalem, who was on percussion, explained how he first got involved with music in the 8th grade when he began to learn guitar. He joined the class initially playing the guitar before switching to the piano because it was easier. He said that the class is enjoyable, “until they need to pick the songs,” due to the different genres that each of the people in his group likes. But when they finally reach a decision on what song to play, the music is “beautiful.” His favorite part of the class was the performances but that the hardest part of the class was picking out the music as mentioned before. His hope for his future in the class was to make smaller groups so that he could potentially have the opportunity to sing but that said, it is “a pretty fun class” if anyone wants to join.

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