By RAVINA PATEL
The Orchestra Pops Concert took place on Thursday June 11 in the Big Theatre. The concert was free and included a reception afterwards with food ranging from sushi and samosas to cookie and brownies. The concert featured the three UHS orchestras: String Orchestra, Concert Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ms. Grace Lee (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.).
String Orchestra started the concert with “Harry at Hogwarts,” composed by Patrick Doyle and arranged by Bob Phillips, a fun and exciting piece to introduce the audience to the pops concert. The audience particularly loved the piece from “Alice in Wonderland” by Danny Elfman and arranged by James Kazik, which was accompanied by percussion and piano in addition to the string instruments. The students of String Orchestra requested more challenging music though it would require more outside of class practice, and Ms. Lee obliged with this fast-paced, dark and mysterious song. The dynamics were much louder than those of previous songs, with various tempo changes that created a magical quality showcasing the students’ extra effort.
Concert Orchestra followed String Orchestra, the largest group at 66 students. They began the set with “Don’t Stop Believin’” arranged by Larry Moore, an immediate crowd favorite. The addition of the drums and Ms. Lee’s energy while conducting added to the audience’s excitement. After the applause died down, Mrs. Lee turned around and said jokingly, “Orchestra people, we know how to rock out!” “The Wizard of Oz” by Harold Arlen and arranged by Steven H. Brook contributed to the light-hearted and fun atmosphere by encouraging audience participation. The audience acted as the munchkins by cheering whenever Ms. Lee gave a thumbs up. Students would sporadically stand and quote phrases from the movie to signify a change in the medley. They finished with “Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones” by John Williams and arranged by Jerry Brubaker. They were joined by students of Wind Ensemble, who met after school and during office hours to rehearse. The lights shut off during the performance, causing the specially taped bows to glow in the dark, appearing like mini light sabers to surprise the audience.
The concert ended with a performance from Symphony Orchestra, who was recently selected to play at the 2015 American Strings Teachers Association (ASTA) National Orchestra Festival. Before the orchestra began playing, Ms. Lee surprised two of her students, Sydney Mariano (Sr.) and Margot Revet (Sr.), with a $500 scholarship award. Mariano will be majoring in violin performance at USC and Revet will be majoring in harp performance at Vanderbilt University. The Symphony Orchestra began their performance with “The Color Purple: Main Theme” by John Williams and arranged by UHS’s own Harrison Ku (So.). Mariano and Jonathan Lien (Jr.) played beautiful solos, showcasing their talent and passion. The orchestra ended with “Selections from Les Miserables” arranged by Bob Lowden, a medley including humorous pieces including “Master of the House,” as well as emotional pieces such as “I Dreamed a Dream.”
The concert concluded with Symphony Orchestra playing the well-known graduation song “Pomp and Circumstance” for the seniors while Ms. Lee announced their names. The Orchestra Pops Concert was an incredible concert that displayed the talent of UHS students and the amount of dedication they have to the music program.