Orchestra Presents Sounds from British Isles in Fall Concert


Photo By Joanne Liu

Orchestra performs songs from the British Isles at their fall concert. The vast array of songs was enjoyed by both the students and the audience.

By Joanne Liu, Yearbooker

Orchestra held their first concert of the year, Sounds from the British Isles, on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Round Rock ISD Performing Arts Center (PAC).  At this fall concert, the four orchestras performed pieces featuring Irish and English music that they prepared since the beginning of the year. 

The concert began with the Camerata Orchestra performing An Elizbethan Madrigal by Thomas Morley, a moderate paced song to set up the mood of the concert. Following, they performed Bozrah from Southern Harmony by American Traditional, a slow piece complemented by the light sound of the tambourine. Their final piece was Variation on an Irish Tune by Brian Balmages, a faster-paced song with a familiar melody. 

“In class, Mr. [Joshua] Thompson told us about how the sound in the PAC would be different than what we heard in the orchestra hall and I definitely agree,” Erith Won ‘22 said. “All the songs sounded really beautiful and the structure of the stage made the sound resonate everywhere.”

After a quick transition, the Concert Orchestra began with Rondo from Abdelazar by Henry Purcell, a smooth piece with a recurring melody. Concert Orchestra then continued with an English folk song called A Maid in Bedlam, the orchestral version arranged by Shirl Jae Atwell. The last piece, The Blacksmith, was another English folk song which began slow and later transitioned into a more upbeat piece that wrapped up the Concert Orchestra’s performance. Students were nervous prior to the performance, but loosened up and had fun while playing the pieces.

“[Unlike] middle school, every orchestra [at this concert] got the same number of pieces which feels more fair,” Jessica Li ‘23 said. “I liked the music in general because since I’m a cellist, we almost never get to play anything fun, so when we actually got the main part at one point, it was exciting.”

Next, the Philharmonic Orchestra performed Chaconne from First Suite, op. 28, no. 1 by Gustav Holst, a beautiful piece with varying tempos throughout, Danny Boy, a melodic Irish folk song and Ode to the Plains and Wild Horses Running from American Serenade by Robert Kerr, an exciting piece that caught the audience’s attention. Though the orchestras were only give a little more than a month to learn the pieces, but students performed well and were proud of their mastery in the pieces.

“At first in our first rehearsal, we really struggled with Chaconne by Holst,” Nirup Kushalnagar ‘22 said. “But as time when on with the concert, we improved a lot, stepped up our game and did really well at the concert.”

This year with more orchestra students, the directors added a second Philharmonic Orchestra, which was the last group to perform. The final orchestra setup differed from the ordinary orchestra setup, with both violin sections sitting on the outside; the Second Violins switched with the Cellos, and the Violas and Cellos moved down towards the middle. 

“The new setup was really helpful,” Anna Beatty ‘22 said. “I liked how the violas were near the firsts because they traded off the melody a lot.” 

Philharmonic began performing Mars from The Planets by Gustav Holst, which began with the violins doing col legno, where they bounce the stick part of the hair on the string. The piece was an exciting start to Philharmonic’s performance. The orchestra then performed Sospiri, op. 70 by Edward Elgar, a slow song accompanied by harps. The concert was wrapped up with Orange Blossom Special by Ervin T. Rouse, a fiddle tune about a train that has a fun beat, with the audience tapping their feet along with the piece. The audience showed their appreciation with a long period of applause, with some audience members giving a standing ovation. 

“I really liked the music we played, especially the Elgar,” Beatty said. “I enjoyed the concert and all the orchestras played beautiful music. I’m looking forward to seeing how each group progress this year.”

Orchestra’s next performance is the Midwest Clinic Early Preview Concert with the Symphony Orchestra on Monday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m. at Round Rock ISD PAC. The Symphony Orchestra did not participate in this concert because of their preparation for the Midwest Clinic in Chicago this December. The winter concert for the other orchestras is on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7:00 p.m. at Hope Presbyterian Church.