Jazz Band Performs alongside Orchestra in 7th Annual Orchestravaganza


Aspen Tallent

Senior Grace Hart focuses on playing her viola solo for the attentive crowd. The orchestravaganza took place last Thursday and Friday in Rezac Audiroium

Aspen Tallent, Junior Photo Editor

Aspen Tallent
Aspen Tallent
Senior Allen Zhang- as a donkey- runs onto the Rezac Auditorium stage. The Orchestravanza included many references to pop culture that involved the audience.

The seventh annual Orchestravanganza stunned its crowd last Thursday and Friday night, featuring performances from Manhattan High’s Chamber, Symphonic and Concert orchestras along with special artists including vocalist Ron Lackey and MHS’s very own Eric Kleiner. 

The concert — themed “Infinite” — went against the typical classical music seen in orchestra concerts, inviting the Blue Notes Jazz Band, senior guitarist Anya Wesely and local aerial dancer Heidi Hilton to make it a lot less traditional. 

In the first act, sophomore Lucy Dunning played an eight-year-old girl who went to space to discover the meaning of life. On the way, she encounters a gathering of donkeys, the Simpsons and “Yoda of Oz” along the way. An odd mix of characters created a sense of humor and many viewers were surprised. 

The second act was a more traditional orchestra concert. Soloists were sprinkled throughout each song and the group at one point came together to perform “Purple Rain” performed by Ron Lackey, which filled Rezac Auditorium with shouts and cheers.

Even Orchestra director Nate McClendon didn’t know what to expect prior to the concert. 

“It never goes how I expect and I expect them to be able to get through it and improvise and figure things out. I just never know what’s gonna happen,” McClendon said. 

The four groups weren’t able to rehearse the concert as a group other than during the one dress rehearsal they had on Dec. 9, and last Thursday night they had to fit all the pieces together. 

“The first night is always crazy, because typically, the way the shows work, we don’t get a chance to really rehearse it, just the students are all in different classes, and there’s so much going on,” McClendon said. 

The students felt that rush too.

“I knew that I was prepared for the concert,” freshman Neveah Buffington said. “I wish I had more time to practice for the acting so I could feel more confident.”

After the performance on Thursday night, the group focused on what to improve at the Friday showing.

 “We’re going to fix a whole bunch of things today that we’ve done,” McClendon said. “A lot of cues and also what’s called blocking in theatre, like people standing in the right place at the right time. But we’ll fix that tonight.” 

The concert was a lot of work for everyone involved, from the performers to McClendon himself. 

“There’s several things that didn’t make it into the show because I just couldn’t get enough things done in time,” McClendon said. “I spent days just getting all the lighting right.” 

Overall, their hard work paid off when the audience cheered at the end of the performance.

“I really loved how all the instruments and lighting worked together,” freshman Avery Inman said.