Orchestra offers rewarding experiences, opportunities

The high school orchestra, under the direction of Matt Radspinner, has a busy schedule this season that will afford students many unique opportunities.

The spring season began with an all-district orchestra concert. Students from grades four through 12 performed for the community at the high school auditorium on Feb. 24. Elementary, middle and high school groups performed individually with the high school’s ensemble groups and Strolling Strings performing as the orchestras transitioned on and off stage. The entire student body performed a finale, Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” to end the evening.

The high school students shifted their focus to PMEA after the district concert.

“We had been practicing on and off (for PMEA) since December, but after the all-district concert we really focused heavily on PMEA music,” sophomore cello player Isabel Bauer said. Bauer is a member of the symphony orchestra that performed in Hershey on March 28.

This is a distinct honor for the musicians. They submitted recordings of last year’s concerts to PMEA for consideration and were one of 30 schools chosen out of a pool of more than 200 schools. “We (had a send-off concert on March 20 where we (played) the exact same music for our parents (and community) that we (were going to) perform in Hershey,” Bauer said.

Junior Jesse Thompson also played at the PMEA conference – just one of many performances for Thompson this spring. Thompson has been playing since he was 8 years old and playing seriously since he was 12, when he began practicing four to five hours every weekend.

Thompson takes regular lessons from a private instructor in the area and has traveled to New York City to take lessons from an instructor at Juilliard. “Orchestra is my life,” Thompson said. “(Orchestra) has taught me practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. But with passion and determination, the sky’s the limit.”

Thompson will graduate early so he can dedicate an entire year to practicing before auditioning for Juilliard next spring.

On March 14, the Strolling Strings traveled to Hershey to perform at the Capitol building. Strolling Strings is a performance group that plays at many community events. They create a very personal, interactive experience for audiences by mingling with audience members and moving about the venue while playing.

“We played for 45 minutes while many people were on their lunch breaks, so they would stop and listen or take videos of us. It was really cool,” sophomore violin player Jenna Hill said.