The John Young Middle School and Mishawaka High School Orchestras came together last Thursday, March 10th, for their annual combined concert, the Festival of Strings.
Each year, Mishawaka High School hosts a concert highlighting the orchestras of the school district. Prior to the 2015-2016 school year, this conglomerate consisted of the elementary, middle, and high school orchestras. However, with the elimination of the orchestra program at the School City of Mishawaka’s elementary schools, the once-proclaimed “All City Strings” swiftly became the “Festival of Strings” - a celebration of John Young Middle School and Mishawaka High School’s orchestras. This change from an “All City” celebration to a “Festival” frenzy brought a number of other changes to the annual program, the most substantial being the change in venue.
Whereas the “All City” concert would always take place in the Cave, this year the SCM Orchestra teacher, Ms. Brooke Victor, decided to try something new. Instead of managing the acoustic and logistic difficulties of the Cave, the JYMS and MHS orchestras instead performed in the MHS auditorium, rotating groups on and offstage as need be. During this transition between groups, Ms. Victor also implemented a new procedure wherein soloists from across the district would perform pieces to alleviate the tense discomfort of onstage silence. Performers included Kaylee Kern, Ryan Downey, and a cello ensemble, all from JYMS, alongside performances by MHS students Tabitha Walters and myself, Maxwell Pickenpaugh.
Nevertheless, the concert itself was smooth and sweet as each school was able to showcase their talent and growth from their previous concerts. The beginning and intermediate/advanced orchestras from JYMS were each given opportunities to showcase themselves in songs including the famous “Over the Rainbow” in the beginning orchestra, or the jazzy “Shortnin’ Bread Blues” in the intermediate/advanced orchestras. Most notably for the MHS orchestra was their performance of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, featuring Mr. Dennis Gamble (the high school band director), Mrs. Haley Lake (the middle school general music education teacher), and four MHS students alongside the accompanying orchestra.
If you missed this performance, look out for the high school orchestra’s performance this May at Mayfest. And, if you would like more information about the program and upcoming events, be sure to “like” the Mishawaka High School Orchestra page on Facebook.