On Tuesday December 19th, Orchestra students from West Bloomfield High School (WBHS), Orchard Lake Middle School (OLMS) and Abbott Middle School (AMS) all performed in front of a full house at the All-City Strings Concert. The All-City String Concert is an annual concert involving the orchestras from each school in the West Bloomfield School District that takes places in December at either AMS, OLMS, or WBHS.
The sixth grade orchestra students from both AMS and OLMS kicked of the concert with their first song, “Jingle Bells” (Pierpont/Meyer). Following that was “Boil’em Cabbage Down” (American Folk Song/O’Connor) then “Tatra Mountain Song” (Polish Folk Song), and finally “Ode to Joy” (Beethoven/Meyer). This concert was one of the first times that parents of sixth grade students were able to see them perform their instruments.
Following the sixth graders, students in the Concert Orchestra from both OLMS and AMS performed. OLMS Concert Orchestra performed “Frog in a Tree” and the AMS Concert Orchestra performed “Festive Dance”, both composed by Edmund Siennicki. To conclude the Concert Orchestra portion, both AMS and OLMS performed “Skater’s Waltz” (Waldteufel/Meyer) together. Students from AMS and OLMS’ Symphony Orchestras were able to perform next to finish the middle school orchestras. AMS’ Symphony Orchestra performed Fanfare and Frippery(R. Stephan), while OLMS’ performed “Conquistador!” (Deborah Baker Monday), and both Symphony Orchestra’s played a holiday favorite, “Jingle Bell Rock” (Beal/Boothe/Chase) together.
Finally, the WBHS Concert and Symphonic String Orchestra’s performed. The Concert Orchestra played both “Tchaikovsky’s Greatest Hits” (Tchaikovsky/Del Borgo), and “Catharsis” (A. Mann/B. Phillips). “My favorite song that we are playing today is Tchaikovsky’s Greatest Hits because it’s fun, it’s fast, it’s slow, it’s everything”, Kira Sivak, Concert Orchestra member and sophomore at WBHS says. To conclude, the WBHS Symphonic String Orchestra performed “Suite for Strings” (I.A-Roving/ J.Rutter), and “Perseus” (Newbold).
As in every great concert, the All-City String Concert would not have been possible without the many parent volunteers, orchestra boosters, and administration that put this show on the road. Mrs. Linda Schaeffler, orchestra parent booster and mother of an 8th grader in OLMS’ symphonic orchestra said that being in orchestra has helped her son because, “He’s definitely learned to play a new instrument that I don’t think he would’ve done before, but I think it’s helped him focus and I think it’s helped in other classes. There’s evidence that shows that music helps in other classes, like math and science, so, I think it’s helped.”
Other parents also agree that orchestra has helped their sons and daughters in school, and in life. Russell Estill Sr., parent of a 10th grader in WBHS’s Symphony Orchestra said that, “I think it’s a well rounded experience, a great experience for our children, being someone who’s also taken orchestra when I was younger, I know how it helped me in terms of getting to meet people, understand my math subjects, other school subjects, and being able to travel more too.”
Deborah J Evans, another parent of an 8th grader in OLMS’ symphonic Orchestra thinks that, “ From the enrichment perspective, orchestra teaches all the participants how to be team players. It’s not just your own instrument, but it’s the blending of instruments that really makes one unified sound of beautiful music. Just like team sports, people may not look at orchestra in that manner but it is certainly a team sport. I think that it does enrich that as well as the education of just the fine arts in general. So I support the program totally, and am very proud to have my daughter as a part of the West Bloomfield Orchestra.”
AMS’ Director of Orchestras’, Lynn Brosnan thoroughly enjoys teaching music to students. Teaching everybody, from beginner sixth graders to the experienced eighth graders is a truly rewarding experience for her. Brosnan says, “Music is a science, it is math, it is a foreign language, it is history. Music develops insight and collaboration like no other subject in school. Most of all music is art and a form of expression.”
Students performing in the concert also see the benefits in participating in orchestra. Niha Khan, a sophomore in Concert Orchestra at WBHS said, “You get to learn how to play as an ensemble, and playing an instrument is very interesting. I’ve played since sixth grade and I really think I’ve improved and can’t wait to improve more.” Sivak said, “I plan on playing my instrument the rest of high school, because it’s fun and I’ve already played it for four years, and I’ve made lots of friends through orchestra.” Younger students agree, Bhargavi Karakula, an 8th grader in the OLMS Symphonic orchestra said that, “I loved listening to the Symphony Orchestra, and being able to hear what we could be like in a few years.”
Listen to the finale song from the concert!