By Josh Kirk
It was Saturday, April 6, 2019. Arundel High School’s Music Department held their first annual Wildcat Music Live! event. It took place at Community United Methodist Church in Crofton. It was a casual event with musical performances by student musicians, plenty of food, and a comfortable, intimate atmosphere. The styles of music at this show ranged from jazz, classical, pop, rock, and even folk.
The Arundel Jazz Band was one of the acts that played a very major role in the event. They provided listeners with A Taste of Memphis, a little bit of blues and swing, a five-piece “Smith Soundwave” band featuring Jack Smith on trumpet, Jacob Wright on tenor saxophone, Jonathan Zutt on piano, Jarod Britt on upright bass, and Griffin Van Doren on drums, and a wonderful closing performance with vocalist Bekah Buetler. Some of the saxophonists that really stole the show that evening were Jacob Wright and Henry Smith, both of whom are members of the Tri-M Honor Society. The jazz band really succeeded with their versatility, near flawless performance, and spirit.
Following Arundel Jazz’s A Taste of Memphis, multi-talented musician Ethan Albo played some gorgeous solo guitar, and made really cool use of a loop pedal. Meanwhile, Jana Liu entertained the audience with some moving and beautiful piano playing, before accompanying vocalist Shea Gardner, in a lovely performance that showcased her already operatic singing tone for a 10th grader.
The following act was new choral group Wildcat Euphonix, which features the combined Arundel Barbershop and Sweet Adelines quartets. This school year, the Barbershop quartet consists of Sam Acey, Drake Mayer, Alexander Hamilton, and Carson Butts, while the Sweet Adelines quartet consists of Yumiko Randall, Molly Churchill, Logan Masters, and Alanna Washington. They performed two songs, “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Haggard and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Their performance of “Sixteen Tons” was very smooth and jazzy with wonderful solos from Washington and Butts. On the other hand, “Hallelujah” was more cinematic and introspective, despite having no backing instrumentation. Acey, Hamilton, and Masters delivered gorgeous solos that really made me feel something as I was listening to them sing. Jeff Buckley may have been responsible for making that song so popular, but Wildcat Euphonix really did pull it off in their own performance. The next act was the J Shop Rock Band, featuring Drake Mayer on lead vocals, Ethan Albo on guitar, and Jonathan Zutt on drums. They performed some legendary rock songs such as “I Me Mine” by The Beatles and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. During this performance, Mayer showed that he could pull off singing even rock songs. Lydia Doughty then sang “Tell Me On A Sunday,” an introspective singer-songwriter ballad.
Sam Acey performed again in the Sam “Sinatra” Acey Ensemble, this time accompanied by members of the Arundel Concert Band. However, the performance didn’t quite live up to its hypothetical coolness. It was a good performance and the musicians sounded great, but unlike his performance as Tony in this year’s musical West Side Story, Acey didn’t really have his Sinatra pipes in full gear. Bailey Streeter performed some impressive solo tuba, while Piney Orchard Elementary School band director Mr. Alexander provided the accompanying piano. Four Ladies and a Truck is Bekah Buetler on vocals, Leah Ogden on guitar, Rachel Hagee on cello, and Bailey Streeter on tuba. They played “Jolene” by Dolly Parton in easily one of the best performances of that evening. Buetler showed some incredible singing chops in the show both in her rendition of “Jolene” and later when the jazz band was behind her. Her work with the jazz band is the kind of high quality performance you’d usually see in a smoky jazz club.
Wildcat Music Live!, known among the musician students as Arundel’s “Cabaret Night,” was easily—in my opinion—one of the music department’s best events of this school year. It showcased some amazing musical talent and great versatility in genre and style of performance. I would love to see this music program host another event like this, if they promise something this good. I wish a bright future for Arundel’s music family!