MHS Orchestra commemorates seniors with last concert

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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While the rest of the school is saying goodbye with tests and exams, the Manhattan High Orchestras said their final farewell during their very last performance of the 2017-2018 school year.

The concert, held May 8, featured performances from the freshmen Concert Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble, as well as a mass with the MHS Chamber Choir for their piece “Schubert’s Mass in G Major.”

“It’s the first time we’ve done that with the choir,” Nate McClendon, orchestra director, said. “That was the big project we’ve worked on over the last couple of weeks.”

The concert gave the students non-traditional forms of playing, enhancing their knowledge and independence as musicians.

“I was excited because we were going without a conductor,” Allen Zhang, sophomore, said. “We really worked on moving as a group.”

Unlike the previous final performances, the orchestras didn’t have their awards ceremony on the same night as their last concert. The awards are instead planned to be given out during the newly-founded annual awards banquet started by the group to better their focus on their music.    

“The new tradition that we started this year is the banquet,” McClendon said. “I wanted to separate the two so it could just be music.”

In preparation for their final performance, the orchestra focused less on the musical aspect and more on the emotional side of no longer being able to perform with this year’s seniors.

“I had to say goodbye to some seniors and it was a time to just think about everyone and recollect those memories,”Joseph Salvatierra, junior, said. “It’s very disappointing although it is happy to know they’re moving on to do other things, as some of them are going to Ivy League schools and really good places.”

While the group is seeing a myriad of new orchestra customs, they also continue to celebrate their time at MHS by doing what they’ve known for years.

“The seniors have this tradition of giving me a gift every year… those gifts tend to be things with my face on them,” McClendon said. “They gave me their gift this year and it pretty much topped all the other gifts… I’m not even going to describe it. It’s in the orchestra room next to the piano, you won’t miss it.”

This year’s gift included a cardboard cutout of McClendon with a photo of his face depicting him in his high school years. The tradition of creating silly items to remember the seniors brings back a sense of nostalgia for those in the past and anticipation for those in the future.

“We’ll miss their musical abilities, we’ll miss their leadership, we’ll miss their personalities,” McClendon said. “We also have underclassmen ready to step up and fill those empty shoes so to speak. We’ll be fine.”

While it’s a common belief that the years to come will present new talent and leadership, it’s still a bittersweet ending for the orchestra.

“I hate saying goodbye,” McClendon said. “As the director, I always take a moment during the last piece that we play to just kind of look around knowing it’s the last time I’ll see those kids at least in the orchestra.”

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