US Orchestra Inspired by Live Salsa Orchestra at Lincoln Center

On February 8, the boys in the Upper School Orchestra were fortunate to listen to the sounds of the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Comprised of 11 musicians on percussion, rhythm instruments, horns, and vocals, the group performed a range of pieces -- five of which were covers of modern indie rock songs sung in English, such as “Young Folks” by PB&J and “Lonely” by the Black Keys. Other pieces included traditional songs with a Cuban spin, influenced by jazz bands, and a song that was written by the main singer, which she sang in Spanish. All of the songs were arrangements by the timbales player.
The interplay of movement and vocals made the music lively and sinuous, mesmerizing the young students in the audience. The lead percussionist explained that while each instrumentalist is not playing a particularly complex part, the combination of all the parts creates this intricate and dynamic sound, which they demonstrated by building a piece, adding one instrument at a time.
Members of the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, some of which included:
-       What inspired the group? They explained that the golden age of Williamsburg in the '60s and '70s was the inspiration, with musicians everywhere. They wanted to bring back that sound.
-       Why do they perform songs in English in a traditionally Latin/Cuban-filled genre of music? They said they feel that New York plays as important a role in the salsa music genre as other cultures and they want to portray this.
Alumnus and Assembly Hall Manager Jaison Spain ’97 knew some of the music and participated in the questions, revealing his strong cultural background.
The Upper School Orchestra boys certainly seemed inspired as they headed back to School.
Nathaniel Edelson '20 said, "My favorite part was seeing how all of the instruments came together in a way that I haven’t heard before."
James Wlodarczak '19 added, "I thought it was awesome the way the instruments were harmonious when put together."

Allen-Stevenson’s distinctive “enlightened traditional” approach educates boys to become scholars and gentlemen.