Orchestra brings back Orchestravaganza

Lasirra Hines, Blue M Editor-in-Chief

The crowd shuffled in, taking their seats and filling the auditorium. The lights began to dim, and out walked orchestra director Cody Toll to present the 2021 Orchestravaganza, held Dec. 9 and 10 in Rezac Auditorium.

For the annual event, the students always take on the role of planning and preparing the event. The beginning act featured a comedic play that some of the orchestra members participated in. It followed a conceited concertmaster trying to get to their performance but learning to value and appreciate others and become a leader.

“The first act was almost completely written by the orchestra members, mainly seniors,” junior Ashleigh Ring said. “The only thing that the conductors controlled was the music we played.”

The students spent much of the week before and of the concert preparing. With a change in conductors and not having the event for nearly two years, it caused some stress.

It was a bit stressful, we were excused from classes once so we could get enough rehearsal in one day. It wasn’t the most graceful preparation because of the change in conductor, and even setting with the symphonic orchestra moving to the band room,” Ring said. “The closer to the concert we got, I think we got more confident we got, especially when we got to dress rehearsal.”

The students played a variety of songs, including many classic Christmas ones such as “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” The concert also featured Christmas movie classics, including “White Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Senior Lydia Brox had a hand in one of the pieces, arranging it to fit the rest of the cello ensemble, from the new murder mystery show “Only Murders in the Building.”

“I started messing around in GarageBand and trying to put it together and listening to the YouTube video and figuring out all the parts, which is kind of tricky and annoying because you have to listen to each part individually while they’re all playing at the same time,” Brox said. “I was able to get it put together and put it into sheet music, printed it out and rehearse it with the crew.”

After the intermission, which concluded the acting portion of the event, the second half began with “Stille Nacht.” It moved into “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” with Toll playing the electric guitar, sophomore Eli Eickhoff on drums and senior Gabe Katzenmeier on electric bass. The instruments were featured throughout the rest of the concert, with the orchestra performing songs such as “Mad Russian’s Christmas” by Tchaikovsky and “Wizards of Winter.”

“‘We Three Kings’ was the most exciting for me. I personally really love the rock aspect that the Orchestravaganza brings to the orchestra, and that song in particular is a really fun one to play,” Ring said.

With the event being annual, the students will prepare for the next one, and the class is already ahead of the game. While some students won’t be able to be part of it, they are providing input to help the rest of the class and plan to attend the event.

“It keeps getting more and more organized and more played out each year. I think next year it’s going to be even better,” Brox said. “We’re talking about getting small group ensembles put together at the beginning of the year, we’re talking [about] getting a backstage crew and a hierarchy of who’s in charge. It’s still going to be a big, crazy flashing lights show that’s a classic each year.”