Junior high orchestras wrap up winter with recent performance

Holmes and Peet had their orchestra concert on the Holmes stage on Feb. 15. The seventh and eighth grade orchestra and the ninth grade orchestra were conducted by orchestra teacher Bradley Affolter. 

The seventh and eighth grade orchestra played the songs “Fan Dance,” “Night Ride” and “Luminescence.” The ninth grade orchestra played the songs “Inverno,” “Red Rocks Suite” and “Mythos.” They have been practicing these pieces every other day since the end of October. 

Affolter said, “I think the seventh and eighth graders were phenomenal. Every ensemble makes mistakes. There is not a perfect musician here. Even professionals will mess stuff up. They just hide it a little bit, so I think overall they had a good sound, even if there were a few mistakes here and there, but I think it was a wonderful performance.”

Peet seventh grader Hallie Gielau has been playing the cello since fourth grade. She said, “My favorite piece was ‘Night Ride.’ It’s special to me because we got to play something different than what we normally play because it’s a little bit darker”

Out of all of the pieces in this orchestra, “Night Ride” definitely stood out in the concert since it gives off a different mood that one typically wouldn’t hear in a young orchestra. Affolter said, “‘Night Ride’ is the most unique just because we start that song with what we call a harmonic, which makes this airy really high sound string sound that kinda sounds like a horror movie that’s really atmospheric, and you don’t get that a lot.”

While there isn’t much of a change from seventh grade to eighth grade orchestra-wise since they’re combined, the jump to ninth grade orchestra is a much larger change. Affolter said,“By the time they get to eighth grade the difference is their school music, so they get a repeat where I ask them to be more of a leadership role and be a leader for the seventh graders other than just repeating seventh grade. Getting to ninth grade is really a bigger jump because I consider it a high school preparation class. I’m really preparing them for how the high school orchestra teacher will run rehearsals and what kind of music expectations they’ll have, so really I’m teaching them small bits of essential skills and just ‘Hey this music is harder. This is how you’re going to work on harder music in high school.’”

After the seventh and eighth grade orchestra left the stage, something different happened. The sound shelves were brought to the ninth graders since the ninth grade orchestra is significantly smaller than the other orchestra. Bringing the sound to them helped them hear themselves easier and so could the audience. Since they could hear themselves better, they were more comfortable performing. 

Aleah Flint has been a violinist for 10 years and is a part of the ninth grade orchestra. She said, “All things considered, I think we did a really great job. It’s very difficult to have a good sound in a small orchestra since mistakes don’t get covered up, and you don’t have the advantage of numbers for louder dynamics. Mistakes at a concert are inevitable, but everyone played extremely well, and the corrections that had been made in rehearsal were applied.”

One of this orchestra’s pieces stood out, and that was “Red Rock Suite.” Affolter said, “‘Red Rock Suite’ has a lot of jazz chords that makes it a little harder on the ensemble. Jazz isn’t brought to an orchestral setting often, and there were just a lot of things that didn’t really sound like orchestra, but it is orchestra, so it was really different, which made it hard.”

Flint said, “My favorite piece we played was ‘Red Rocks Suite,’ but I may be biased because I was the concertmaster and got a solo in the second movement. Aside from that, ‘Red Rocks’ was fun because it had three movements, and they were all very different from each other. The first movement had lots of accidentals and tempo changes, which made it sound somewhat jazzy, a style I don’t get to play a lot. The second movement was slow and featured the violas, which was cool because it’s pretty rare that the violas have the melody for that long. The third movement was a march and was a fun way to end the piece. Overall, it was a good mix of styles and my favorite piece we did.”

The next orchestra concerts are All-City on April 29 at 7 p.m., which is at the high school. The spring concert is at Holmes at 7 p.m. on May 9.

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