Orchestra Excels at UIL Solo & Ensemble

Audrey Lu, Reporter

Solo and ensemble is an annual event for musicians to earn a professional opinion on their musical skill. This year, it was held on Jan. 30. The Orchestra directors highly encourage members of every orchestra to participate, but it is not a mandatory event.

“I wanted to see how solo and ensemble was this year because middle school solo and ensemble and high school solo and ensemble are very different,” Ethan Riser ‘19 said.

As implied by the name of the event, all participants must prepare a solo, but the musicians have the option of preparing a string ensemble. Out of 74 participants, 14 prepared an ensemble.

“We practiced Dvorak’s American First Movement. It’s a quartet. I thought the individual parts weren’t very difficult to learn, but putting it together definitely was,” Priyam Mazumdar ‘17 said.

“It’s kind of all over the place so definitely putting it together was difficult, but by slow practice it wasn’t terribly difficult.“

A duet, a trio, or a quartet constitutes an ensemble. There were two quartets playing and three trios playing this year.

“I wanted to do an ensemble for solo and ensemble because I’m able to work with my friends and create music outside of school,” Mira Jain ‘18 said. “It makes me feel like I’m part of a community and it helps me bond more with my friends.”

The judges rate the musicians performance on a scale with one being the highest score. Those who earn a one receive a gold medal and all participants receive feedback on their performance.

“I feel like I’ll get a one. I like how they do the solos here because after you finish, they always give you some tips on how you can improve, but I’m almost positive I got a one,” Mazumdar said.

There is an option for musicians to perform a memorized solo. If the participant receives a one on a memorized solo, it gives the musician the chance to be accepted into TSSEC (Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest).

“I’ve had past experience with TSSEC and something I have learned from the experience is the judges pay closer attention to detail and it takes more work to get a good score,” Stephanie Wijono ‘16 said.

Similar to Solo and Ensemble, TSSEC is an annual event. Last year, TSSEC was held on May 30, this year TSSEC will be held on May 28 and May 29.

“Last year, I was super agitated and nervous but this year I took it a little bit easier because you shouldn’t over practice your pieces, it’s not good for you,” Mazumdar said.