Orchestra Welcomes the Christmas season with a “Cello”

After all of the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes have been eaten, all the pumpkins are carved and the leaves are done falling and changing colors, with all of these signs, we know a new season is quickly approaching: Christmas time! However, this is old news for the James Buchanan High School Orchestra.

 

Director Mrs. Sheryl Dieke (Faculty), and the Rocket Orchestra have been preparing for the Christmas season since the beginning of this school year. In September, the students received some of the selections of music that could be featured in the Christmas concert.

 

The orchestra’s Christmas Concert will take place in the high school auditorium on Dec. 16 at 3:00 p.m.

 

From the time the Orchestra received the music, they have worked and practiced every day during second period to perfect it.

 

“They just have a lot of basics under control” said Dieke. “They sight read phenomenally and understand key signatures very well.”

 

All violins, violas, cellos and bass must break the music down measure by measure with their sections to play their parts in the music successfully to be prepared to perform it for the concert. Each instrument plays an essential role in the orchestra because they all bring the piece of music together with their various parts.

 

“Being that we have put it into a classroom situation where we’re practicing every day, rather than hit and miss during an activity period, the only direction to go is up,!” said Dieke. “And the students prove that every day!”

 

Megan Hoffeditz (12), the Orchestra’s only viola player, has been playing since the fourth grade. She believes practicing is a crucial. She has also learned what it takes to get through difficult pieces and to succeed as the only viola.

 

“Just sitting down, playing through it really slow, working out the notes and then speeding it up as time goes on,” helps her explained Hoffeditz.

 

During second period, the students have been working on a variety of songs including “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Babes in Toyland,” “Ukrainian Fantasy,” “Sleep, Holy Babe,” and “The Christmas Waltz.” Practice is important to the orchestra, because they want to make sure everyone is able to play their part.

 

Lana Donahue (12) has been playing the violin for 8 and 1/2 years. She is first chair violin in the orchestra. She has learned what tips and tricks it takes for her to overcome difficult parts in the music.

 

“I play by ear so I mostly search the music online.” said Donahue. “Then I listen to it and I go home and I can just put earphones in and I just play the music by itself.”

 

There are also students who work on the music during their own time because they didn’t have enough room in their schedule to fit in Orchestra throughout the day. For the concert, both groups come together to play.

 

With a variety of music pieces comes a variety of difficulty. Pieces are rated for difficulty by grades. The grades range from 1-7, with 1 being the least and 7 the most difficult. The highest grade the Orchestra will be playing is a grade 4 piece called “Wizards in Winter.” The piece is by Paul O’Neill and Robert Kinkel and arranged by Bob Phillips. The song has many sixteenth notes and changes fastly from playing “arco,” or with your bow, to “pizzicato,” or plucking the strings with your fingers.

 

“Lots of things are happening layer on layer which is really cool,” said Dieke. “The tempo, the sixteenth-note runs, and all the little intricate pieces that are in there.”

 

“Wizards in Winter” will be the Orchestra’s closing piece. However, the group seems to have some tricks up their sleeves to intensify the closing song: the closing piece will also feature a light show.

 

The light show will be put together by Claire Alfree (12) and Hannah Mellott (12). Both Alfree and Mellott are in Sound and Lighting, taught by Mr. Eric Poe (Faculty). The girls are working on using their skills that they have learned from the class to make the lights “dance” with the rhythm of the music. They plan to make the song more intriguing to the audience and do something out of the ordinary.

 

Students know there are some things to still work out before the show. However, they have confidence they will perform nicely at the concert.

 

Hoffeditz says, “I feel we will do pretty well. We have a lot of solid songs so far.”

 

Although, the orchestra has shrunken in size over the last couple of years the director has no fear that the orchestra will be nothing but successful for their Christmas performance.

 

“The kids are great and have worked very hard,” said Dieke. “It will be magnificent! It will be a great concert!”