MHS and middle school orchestras come together for annual collaboration concert

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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The annual Orchestra Collaboration Concert, featuring performances from the USD 383 Secondary Strings, showcased the talents of not only the many Manhattan High orchestra students, but also those of the middle school students.

The concert, held March 13, began with a combined performance from the orchestras at Anthony Middle School and Eisenhower Middle School and was later followed by the Manhattan High orchestras.

“This is kind of one of my favorite things to do because you see the whole breadth of our program, at least at the secondary level,” Nate McClendon, MHS orchestra director, said. “You have the younger seventh and eighth graders then all the way up through the high school.”

Beginning with a combined performance from the Concert and Symphonic Orchestras and their selected pieces, they were soon ushered onto the stage to play. Like the band, the Manhattan High orchestra has also seen an abundance of student enrollment, thus allowing them to create the never-before-seen Concert Orchestra. Though it’s a positive effect for them, the amount of students does create issues.

“We’re getting too big for Rezac,” McClendon said. “Just finding ways to get us to fit in this room… that’s a great problem to have.”

The audience heard from the Chamber Orchestra next, the “crown jewel” of the concert, according to McClendon. Their piece “Butterfly Lovers” featured Lirui Zhao, a member of the Confucius Institute at Kansas State University, on the guzheng — a traditional Chinese instrument played by plucking its many strings. The piece, considered to be the “Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet,” gave the audience a taste of traditional Chinese music and an introduction to foreign instruments.

By the end, all the bands featured at the Collaboration Concert came together to play one united piece. Preparation for the concert was very limited to some, as all of the bands received the collaboration music at different points in time.

“We’ve had it for three weeks. We’ve been practicing for only one and a half,” Joseph Salvatierra, junior, said. “Chamber got it yesterday, so yesterday was the first time they played it, and then freshman orchestra has been playing it for about a month.”

Despite this obstacle, the bands were able to come together and play an outstanding performance for the audience, even though their focus was spent mostly on their upcoming competition in April.

“The music that we played here is not music that we really focused really hard on,” McClendon said. “The nice thing is that the groups are so advanced that, you know, we can learn this music and get it to sound good pretty quickly.”

The main goals of the groups were not to just play decent music, but to also establish connections between themselves as performers and the audience.

“We really didn’t focus on musical aspects but instead our intentions were to build upon our relationship with the community, develop our reputation and inspire younger students,” Allen Zhang, sophomore, said. “I think it accomplished what we wanted it to.”

This opportunity for the bands to play as one unit allows for everyone to see just how much talent they all have, as well as giving the younger students experience with playing in a high school orchestra.

“You can feel that they’re amazed at how good that group plays,” McClendon said. “I love that because that inspires them and that makes them want to do well and to be better for when they get here.”


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