Orchestra performs first concert of year

Lasirra Hines, Blue M Editor-in-Chief

As people began to settle in their seats, director Cody Toll walked to the front of the stage and welcomed everyone to the first orchestra concert of the 2021-2022 school year last Thursday in Rezac Auditorium. 

Before the concert began, Toll brought in a representative to discuss “Friends of the Arts,” a nonprofit organization for parents to support faculty and students in all of the fine arts programs at the school.

“They raise money to help with equipment and activity costs [throughout] the year and also provide personnel for events when we need them,” Toll said. “They are a huge part of making our strong departments possible,” Toll said.

The night kicked off with the freshman concert orchestra, directed by Toll. Freshman Saba Mirafzal led the orchestra in tuning since he is the concertmaster for the orchestra, which is the leader of the first violin section. Toll conducted the orchestra through four pieces including “Intrada” by Brian Balmages and “Folk Tune and Fiddle Dance” by Percy Fletcher.

Toll wants to challenge the students with his selections and help them improve their skill.

“My top priority is exposing them to new challenges that will help them grow in their expertise on their instrument,” Toll said. “I selected music in a variety of keys, time signatures and tempos. We played a lot more music in class than we did in the concert. The concert featured the tunes we play the best but also presented some variety for the audience.”

There was a small intermission between the next concert performance in which Toll gave the same speech that was delivered earlier to new members in the audience before moving along to introduce Brett Lytle, director of the Symphonic Orchestra.

Lytle walked out onto the stage, preparing to conduct his first high school orchestra concert.

The Symphonic Orchestra played three pieces including both parts from “Brook Green Suite” by Gustav Holst and “Sabre Dance,” from the ballet “Gayane” by Aram Khachaturian, arranged by Ted Ricketts.

There was some difficulty preparing for the concert amongst the Symphonic Orchestra, as the students were struggling to work together as a team.

We need to actually make it to where we’re a team and we’re not just a bunch of people who are taking this class just for the credit, because that’s what it feels like. I mean, that’s all it is,” junior Kayden Jones, fifth chair violin, said. “There’s just a bunch of people in different sections that are just there for the credit and are probably going to drop in the second semester. So we just need to get into that team building spirit.”

The last part of the concert was the Chamber Orchestra. Former director Nate McClendon introduced the concept last year when the orchestra performed without a conductor.

“Playing without a conductor requires more responsibility from each player,” junior Julius Neumann, concertmaster, said. “To stay together we need to listen carefully and watch each other’s movements. I feel that in the process we have become more collaborative musicians.”