KHS Orchestra Storms the Windy City

photo courtesy of Google under the Creative Commons license

photo courtesy of Google under the Creative Commons license

Mia Alexander, Writer

Her fingers rapidly flipped through the pages of her music book, searching for the right starting point as the rest of the class clutched their bows into playing position. Lilly Van Rees, freshman, in the Symphonic Orchestra’s bass line, prepares to practice “Hoedown by Aaron Copland. “Hoedown” is one of the many pieces that KHS orchestra plans to play on their trip to Chicago for the Heritage Music Festival. The orchestra has been organizing their playing schedule for approximately four months now. They plan to put their practice to the test when they travel to Chicago from April 27 to April 29.

“We’ve been practicing and practicing for months now, trying to get the notes and rhythms all down,” Van Rees said. “I feel somewhat confident because I just performed at Missouri All-State, but I’m also nervous to play. Nerves are common with me, especially every time I’m about to go up on stage.”

Along with Van Rees, Cameron Rivers, junior, looks forward to attending the Heritage Music Festival. In addition to showcasing his talents, Rivers is excited to make long-lasting memories.

“I don’t have much time left in high school,” Rivers said. “I’ve been apart of orchestra for eight years now and I want to enjoy the last moments with my orchestra friends while I can. This isn’t just some chance to get away from school. It’s a chance to play my best and savor the fun moments.”

Although some orchestra members are anticipating the trip to Chicago, students such as Kate Reynolds, sophomore, feel more rehearsal is needed. Reynolds said she has been occupied with previous commitments, leaving less time to perfect her pieces.

“I had an [orchestra] audition last week, so I haven’t really been preparing for the Chicago trip that intensely,” Reynolds said. “I’m feeling pretty nervous about the performance in Chicago. I feel like the entire orchestra as a whole isn’t well prepared. We definitely need a few more rehearsals.”

KHS orchestra is busy with musical pieces and performances all school-year, in addition to some members participating in orchestras outside of KHS. All of the music to practice can cause stress to students over time-management, according to Reynolds.

“There have been challenges with preparing large amounts of pieces in so little time,” Reynolds said. “We have our final spring orchestra concert less than a week after we get back from Chicago, so it is difficult to try to balance so many pieces.”

KHS orchestra is broken up into two orchestras: Symphonic Orchestra and Concert Orchestra. They are both traveling to Chicago, but will be playing different pieces.

“I think that Symphonic and Concert are both very good orchestras, but Symphonic does play a higher level of music,” Claire Guillemot, freshman, said. “When we go to Chicago, we won’t be competing against each other, Concert and Symphonic are in different categories. To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Concert Orchestra or Symphonic Orchestra, we’re all apart of KHS Orchestra and we’re all passionate about music.”

A few orchestra players such as Guillemot, compare the Chicago trip to the New York trip to Carnegie Hall. Guillemot considers Carnegie Hall as one of the most highly-esteemed music venues in America and was honored to play there.

“Playing at Carnegie Hall was unforgettable and was definitely a lot bigger than Chicago,” Guillemot said. “Nonetheless, it’s still pretty cool to travel out-of-state for school. I’m very excited for the trip and all the sightseeing and shopping we’re gonna do.”

According to Reynolds, she is also thrilled to spend time in Chicago and experience new parts of the city she has never seen before. For some orchestra members, traveling to cities like New York and Chicago is an opportunity to perform music and explore.

“I’m excited for the performance, but I’m also excited to stay in a hotel that’s right in the middle of the city,” Reynolds said. “I’ve been to Chicago multiple times, but I’ve always stayed in hotels outside of the city. I will be with all of my friends and have a fun time traveling with them.”

According to Elizabeth Button, freshman, KHS orchestra feels like a family. Button said traveling together allows the orchestra community to grow even closer.

“I’m not nervous about performing because I always have the rest of my orchestra to back me up incase I make a mistake,” Button said. “I’ve never had to travel with my past orchestra experiences and I’ve never had the opportunity to bond so much with my orchestra mates. I’m excited to connect with my orchestra friends in a new light and hang out with other groups that I haven’t talked to before.”