By MARCELLA DECOUD
As the first orchestra performance of the year came to a start, the sound of violins, violas, cellos and basses warmed up the crisp October night air. The audience was filled with parents, friends and family members all eager to watch the performances from University High School’s (UHS) String Orchestra, Concert Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra. The concert was magnificently directed by Mrs. Grace Lee (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.) and started off with a piece from String Orchestra, called “Autumn” from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. String Orchestra played light and airy pieces throughout the first thirty-minutes, and ended with the blood-curdling piece, “Rosin Eating Zombies from Outer Space,” which featured live screams from the orchestra members. Each piece performed was unique and magical in its own way.
Concert Orchestra featured many graceful pieces, such as my personal favorite, “Palladio” by Karl Jenkins. The piece was beautiful, and the solo by Eumin Lee (Jr.) was riveting, capturing the attention of the audience immediately.
Symphonic Orchestra impressed audience members with its ability to deliver lengthy and demanding pieces. The talent from each of the musicians was apparent, especially when the orchestra played its ending piece, “Introduction and Allegro for Strings” by Edward Elgar. This piece featured soloists Sydney Mariano (Sr.), Chelsea Mariano (So.), Hanlin Chen (So.) and Jonathan Lien (Jr.) in a quartet.
Two years ago, Symphonic Orchestra attended the 2013 American Strings Teachers Association (ASTA) National Orchestra Festival in Rhode Island and placed second in the nation. This year, Symphonic Orchestra will attend the 2015 ASTA Festival in Utah and play “Introduction and Allegro for Strings” during the competition. The orchestra concert served as the first step in Symphonic Orchestra’s preparation for this festival.
Although orchestra typically has its first concert in December, the bell schedule has allowed the orchestras to rehearse more frequently, pushing the first concert of the year to October. Mariano said, “It was nice to be performing early in the year because not only is it an opportunity to practice performing, but it’s also a chance that we get in order to show others how much we love music. I was so happy to see that our concert was a full house, because the UHS orchestra program really deserves a lot of recognition.”
For the first time in several years, the orchestra program charged for tickets, which cost $10 for students and $15 for adults. However, many complementary tickets were given to those who donated towards the orchestra program. The new charge for tickets goes towards the Orchestra Student Organization (OSO), a UHS student club that represents all three orchestras. The proceeds help pay for new instruments, new sheet music and orchestra events including banquets and after concert receptions; the orchestra can especially benefit from funding because of its shift towards national competitions and the expansion of its repertoire of pieces.
Mrs. Lee said after the concert, “I was freaking out a little bit because it was our first concert, but I was so happy with how everything turned out. I think it went really well.” It was evident that she was proud of her student’s excellent work and dedication. The next orchestra concert, which is holiday themed, will be held on December 11.