Orchestra prepares for assessment

Junior+viola+player+Freddy+Henriquez-Pinzon+and+sophomore+viola+player+Matthew+Kim+practicing+Waltz+No.+II+by+Dimitri+Shostakovich%2C+Arr.+By+Paul+Lavender%2C+beofre+perfoming+on+stage.+%E2%80%9CI+like+Waltz+No.+II+because+it%E2%80%99s+a+very+technical+piece+and+it%E2%80%99s+fun+to+play%2C%E2%80%9D+Henriquez-Pinzon+said.

Junior viola player Freddy Henriquez-Pinzon and sophomore viola player Matthew Kim practicing Waltz No. II by Dimitri Shostakovich, Arr. By Paul Lavender, beofre perfoming on stage. “I like Waltz No. II because it’s a very technical piece and it’s fun to play,” Henriquez-Pinzon said.

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The orchestra held their pre-assessment concert on Thursday, Feb. 21, to prepare for their annual assessment concert taking place on March 13-14.
Something that is unique about the pre-assessment concert is that, with the exclusion of the masquerade concert, middle schoolers are invited to perform alongside them.
“Having the middle schoolers join us is a big deal for them, especially,” Orchestra Conductor Larissa Marian said. “They get to perform in a high school stage, interact a little bit with high school students, get to see the setting and they get to know our environment a little bit better.
Marian said that it kind of brings home to them that “oh, this is what I am going to be doing next year.”
That isn’t the only thing that makes this concert unique, however, as the pre-assessment concert also serves as a simulation of sorts.
Marian invites teachers from different schools within the county to serve as mock judges and provide feedback that will help the orchestra better prepare for assessment.
“We hold four concerts every year,” orchestra conductor Larissa Marian said, “The purpose of our concerts is to have a real-life goal for the students to look towards as well as to serve our school and community, by providing music for our community. But specifically, assessment is unique in that in addition to a concert, we are also going to be judged.”
Another way the orchestra prepares is by having warm-ups related to the music that is being played and bringing in sectional coaches for each instrument that will allow the players to have a better understanding of their music.
“Around this time, students have experienced growth,” she said. “They’ve been playing for a while during the school year and they’ve been practicing, so real growth starts to happen.”
Marian believes this is the right time to bring in guest artists to work with the students in a small group setting.
One last thing the orchestra does to prepare itself is listening to videos of other orchestra’s play the same pieces and ass them.
The orchestra then proceeds to grade them by using the VBODA grade sheet, the same rubric the judges use during assessment.
The orchestra also uses this technique to grade themselves by recording and listening to their own performances.
“Music is an ongoing art,” Marian said, “[I am such a big advocate and supporter for the orchestra because it unifies the left and right side of the brain, and it addresses the whole person.”
Marian believes that no matter the person, there is always room for improvement.
The orchestra has been focusing on things such as tempo, pulse, rhythm and intonation.
“Coming back from this concert, we are going to focus on little details,” she said. “Things that will make the music really come to life.”
With assessment coming up in three weeks, Marian feels very confident in the orchestra and strongly believes they are in good shape for assessment.
She has praised the orchestra for their hard work on preparing for the pre-assessment concert.
Now she intends to focus on the musicality of their pieces and taking their artistry to the next level with the time left.
Orchestra students are also ready to get everything perfected for assessment.
Junior and Philharmonic violinist Jason Escobar agreed that the orchestra now needs to focus on the little details of the music to be ready for assessment.
Individually, he is planning to focus on his intonation and his rhythm, hoping to perfect in the next couple of weeks.
This is one of many examples of orchestra students doing their part to make the program better.
“I am feeling pretty good about this concert and about assessment,” Marian said.