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MHS Orchestra travel to Lawrence for annual festival

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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The Manhattan High Symphonic and Chamber Orchestras traveled to Lawrence High to perform in the State Large Group Festival last Thursday.

Throughout the day, a total of 22 schools performed for a panel of three judges and were evaluated after playing for 20 minutes.

“For everyone in the orchestra it is always a great learning experience to play in new areas that have different sounds,” Ayden Boyles, junior, said. “We also get to find out how we compare to other orchestras in Kansas.”

The experience was different for the two groups, as everyone played different pieces and Concert Orchestra only attended as a way to familiarize themselves with the festival.

“Chamber Orchestra played two and Symphonic Orchestra played three,”Jesse Theademan sophomore, said. “Concert Orchestra only came to get a feel for the experience so they knew what to expect next year.”

Both the Symphonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra received the highest rating of a one, an achievement the groups hold with pride.

“Last year was the first year for the Symphonic Orchestra that we were able to break that threshold and get a one, which as our goal,” Nate McClendon, orchestra director said. “I was really proud of them particularly because… as that group gets better I give them harder music which makes it harder to get a one.”

As for the Chamber Orchestra, the group has been combining untraditional musical habits into their routine throughout rehearsal, such as performing without the assistance of a director as well as causing students to become familiarized with leadership roles.

“We’ve been working on that last three weeks of being able to work on music without a conductor,” McClendon said. “They have to be able to be watching each other they have to be listening to each other and then different students at different times have to take the lead in bringing in the group.”

The absence of a director has caused more than just a newfound sense of leadership within the ensemble. The group has needed to work around maintaining a steady tempo without a conductor to guide them.

“They stand up… so they can see each other better and they can move more when they play so that they can conduct time,” McClendon said. “ It’s been really exciting to watch that group develop into what they are right now. They played extremely well. Both groups did but the Chamber Orchestra was really kind of lights out last week.”

The festival also outlines the standards of music set by the state of Kansas. Unlike other states, Kansas has no competitions where a certain rank is awarded to individuals of winning quality, only festivals where a certain soloist or ensemble is graded.

“In the music field the way they distinguish from a competition and a festival is a festival everyone gets graded,” McClendon said. “Kansas doesn’t do competitions so everything musically here is a festival.”

As for MHS, they have done more than enough to set their own standards of performing in front of an audience and judges while showing their own set of unique talents.

“We’re setting our own standard and trying to live up to that,” McClendon said. “It was fun in a completely different way.”

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MHS Orchestra travel to Lawrence for annual festival