Orchestra Quad Concert marks musical progress across grade levels

By Annika Prom, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Coming together for the 29th annual Quad Concert, orchestras from the southeast of Edmonds School District (ESD) joined forces in the MTHS gym. On Wednesday, March 7, seven schools gathered and jammed all night to classical and rock music.

Hosted by Brier Terrace Middle School (BTMS) Assistant Principal Allyn Turner, the Quad Concert commenced with “Heart of Fire” performed by the MTHS Chamber Winds. Turner took the opportunity to announce an upcoming Music Boosters fundraiser at Chipotle on Tuesday, March 27.

The sixth grade orchestras combined for “Medieval Kings,” a short, but exciting song that included the tambourine. Following the song, Turner engaged the performers and audience in a show of hands to see who attended each school participating in the concert.

With Turner slated to host all three quad concerts, he joked that he might go to MTHS instead of BTMS for work.

“I hope I don’t come here tomorrow morning,” Turner said.

Seventh graders took the stage next with “Telemann Sinfonia,” a song with intricate minor chords. They then finished their set with “Joust.”

Concert Orchestra performed “Figaro, Figaro,” an upbeat iconic orchestra piece commonly played in movies. The song differed amongst various moods and included a range in dynamics, along with the orchestra singing “figaro” throughout the piece. Afterwards, Chamber Winds moved to sit with the Concert Orchestra.

All of the sixth graders, accompanied by sophomore Ella Seavers on drums, changed the atmosphere with “Rosintown Rock.” Orchestra director Bobby Collins, who works in three quads of the Edmonds School District, most enjoyed listening to this song because its genre differed from the others.

“I think ‘Rosintown Rock’ is probably my favorite. The driving ostinato of the cellos and basses largely is a lot of fun [and] the syncipations that we get with playing on two and four for the upper strings most of the time,” he said. “It’s fun for the kids to get out of traditional string music and play something a little bit more modern.”

The musicians transitioned to the eighth graders, who selected “Brandenburg Concerto No. 5” to open their pair of pieces. Their second song, “Fantasia on a Theme From Thailand,” began with pizzicato, or string plucking, and made its mark as eighth grader Sydney Nguyen’s favorite song.

“I like the calming sections contrasting with the quicker parts of it,” she said.

Both MTHS orchestras stomped and clapped during their joint performance of “Fiddle-Fest,” which stood out as the star of the night for junior Donald Strohl.

“It’s a fast fiddle song. It has very few rests and keeps moving, rarely pauses, it just keeps a very upbeat tempo,” he said. “That’s the type of music I like playing. I like playing very quick, very fun songs.”

Turner stepped in afterwards while playing his harmonica as a “quick commercial break” to promote the upcoming Summer Music School in which elementary to high school students can participate. The Visual and Performing Arts Department of the ESD hosts this annual program, which includes workshops, a Fourth of July parade and a final concert.

The orchestras kept the fiddle theme going in their grand finale, “Fiddles Out West.” Though not his favorite piece, Collins always has a soft spot for finales.

“I always enjoy when everyone comes together to play at the end. It’s always fun for the kids to play with the huge group of players. It really changes their sound, changes their experience,” he said.

Nguyen felt the finale signified her musical growth and inspired her to look forward to how she can continue to develop her skills.

“I liked when we got to play as a group because it felt like it was a connection between all of the people around,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s part of the growing process as a student, you know, looking up to older kids and trying to be kind of like them.”

Strohl made a similar observation, but thinks the unity between the players extended throughout the entire concert.

“I think it’s important to show [the younger students] that if they stick with music and continue doing it, they can reach a higher level than they are,” Strohl said. “I feel like it gives a good incentive to the other kids to show them that you’re doing good now at this level, but you could be doing better as long as you continue improving.”

While quad concerts are fun experiences for students, Collins sees the event as an opportunity for him and families to witness students’ progress and project their future development as musicians.“It’s really important for the kids and the parents to see the trajectory of where they can go,” Collins said. “[Learning how to play an instrument takes] a lot of sacrifices, not only for the students, but also for the parents and the families. [They can see] the excitement of just how far, even without private lessons or fancy stuff so to speak, these kids can really come just by being involved in the music program.”