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Orchestra Students Showcase Talents in All Region Concert

Sloka Chandrasekaran, Reporter

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The orchestra all region concert included Westwood, McNeil, Hendrickson, Cedar Ridge, Pflugerville, Weiss, Stony Point, Round Rock, and Georgetown High School, along with a student from Bluebonnet Suzuki Studio.

The region orchestra concert took place at the Round Rock Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Saturday, Dec. 2. Band and orchestra students from all over the region who placed well in auditions had the opportunity to perform in front of friends and family during the concert. The participating students were taught by Dr. Michael Alexander, a music professor from Baylor University.

“My band directors in school have really funny metaphors to help us understand the style of the music, but [Dr. Alexander] had some really valuable input and had interesting ways of explaining things,” Cordell Foulk ‘19 said. “It was really cool learning from someone as experienced as him.”

The first piece the full orchestra played was The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana. It is one of the most widely performed symphonic poems written by any composer. The piece depicts the flow of the Vltava River — the Moldau in German — from the mountains of the Bohemian Forest to the city of Prague. The piece started off with a flute soloist, which then led into the orchestra’s melody. The strings were very prominent in this piece, along with the woodwinds.

“I was really excited when I found out we were going to play Smetana’s Moldau as it is one of my favorite full orchestra pieces,” Hannah Lu ‘20 said. “I love the main string melody that we play.”

For the second piece, the full orchestra played Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World” by Antonín Dvořák. Students performed the fourth and final movement of the piece, Allegro con fuoco. Dvořák was influenced by the Native American and African American spirituals he heard while teaching with his African American assistant, Harry T. Burleigh, and by the style and technique used by earlier composers, such as Beethoven and Schubert, when writing this piece of music. This movement had grand brass features and technical orchestra melodies throughout the piece.

“This was my favorite piece out of the two because percussion doesn’t usually play much in full orchestra, but in this piece I had a super killer timpani solo,” Alex Chao ‘18 said. “I actually got lost a couple times counting rests because we have so many of them.”

As the students played their final note, the audience was on their feet, clapping and cheering loudly. Dr. Alexander stepped off the podium and asked the students to stand as he bowed. The students smiled for pictures taken by friends and family as the audience continued to applaud.

“We didn’t start rehearsals for this music until two days ago and everyone was scared because we haven’t played these pieces for very long,” Edward Seo ‘21 said, “but everyone was really happy after we finished playing because we sounded really good and I’m proud of how we did after only two days of practice.”

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