Thursday, December 16, 2010

high school music scene

last night, i performed my first concert with whitman, which also marked my first concert as a concertmistress! it was really exciting, yet nerve-racking, because i walked out to tune the orchestra and even introduced one of our pieces!

at whitman, there are two orchestras and four bands, including the jazz band.
  • i'm in the concert orchestra. it is mainly for freshies, so it is teeny tiny: 5 first violins, 5 second violins, 2 violas, 3 cellos (2 of which usually come late to class or just skip it all together), and 3 basses.
  • concert band is mainly freshman as well. for some reason, they are the only group that didn't buy the dresses or borrow the school tuxes.
  • the symphonic band and the wind ensemble are both bands for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. the wind ensemble is the highest level though. like my mom, you may be wondering: why in the world is it called the wind ensemble when it actually includes brass instruments? well, i'm sort of wondering that too.
  • the higher level orchestra, the symphonic orchestra, is much bigger since it includes the sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • last of all is the jazz band. it has the best trumpet, trombone, and saxophone players at the school, plus a rhythm section.
the groups performed in that order which to be blunt... is from worst to best.

it was awkward being the first group to perform. everyone was still talking as i started walking onto the stage. that was most likely because the lights in the audience only turned off in the middle of our performance. pretty bad, right?

after the rest of the orchestra was seated, i walked out from stage left, bowed to the audience, and played my A string for the orchestra to tune! sounds minor, i know, but it was quite a rush. notice my newly tailored dress!

our selection order was as follows:
  1. Hanukkah Lights................ Barry Amass
  2. Dance Suite.......................... W.A. Mozart
  3. Silent Night.......................... Franz Gruber

i'm guessing that ms. alvey purposefully chose both a christian and jewish piece for us to perform. smart. maybe dance suite was meant to be the secular piece.

i announced the dance suite. ms. alvey told us that she was "a firm believer in having the kids announce the pieces." she told us during class on the day of the concert that she didn't have time to write our speeches on notecards... so during the school day, i was thinking frantically about what to say: piece or selection? we hope you enjoy it or enjoy? well, i asked a couple of people their opinions, and i think my choices were pretty good.
"The next piece we'll be performing for you tonight is called Dance Suite, composed by Mozart. It has been our most challenging piece this year and is comprised of three movements: Gavotte, Menuet, and Country Dance. We hope you enjoy it."

just for the record, i didn't want to say it was our most challenging piece. ms. butler (my middle school orchestra teacher) used to say that, and i always felt like it was an excuse for bad playing. but... ms. alvey asked me to.

after my performance, i watched the rest of the concert with my family. most people had already left by the end, but i was interested in hearing the other groups. i'm glad i did, because i heard some interesting things. there was even a piece that the symphonic orchestra played called toy symphony where the violists played bird noises (a nightingale, a cuckoo and a quail) instead of their violas. you know, you had to be there.

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