Annual orchestra concerts brings a world of holiday cheer

Cluster concert serves to bond students of all feeder schools


Sarah DeMotte

Musicians congregate in the gym ready to display their talents in front of a huge audience.

Katie Gallaway , News Section Editor

     The orchestra held an exciting performance at their annual cluster concert on Dec. 7 alongside the orchestras of each of the feeder schools. 

     “We’ve been preparing for this since October after our fall concert,” orchestra director Brian Coatney said. “The kids have been working really hard.”

     The cluster concert is a demonstration of how orchestra students progress as musicians throughout their time in the school system. The beginner middle school orchestras of Haggard, Wilson, Schimelpfenig and Carpenter performed first, followed by the high school ensembles of Clark, Vines and Plano Senior. To end the performance, everyone participated in a combined piece. 

     “The orchestra program has been holding this cluster concert for a long time, before I even became a director here,” Coatney said. “I know they’ve been doing it since at least the ‘90s.”

     The Vines cluster performed at 2 p.m. and the Clark cluster performed at 5 p.m. In total, roughly 600 students participated. Admission for the concert was free, but attendees were invited to donate at the performance.

     “The money we raise goes towards our private lesson scholarship,” Coatney said. “It is used to help students who want to take private lessons but need financial help.” 

     The concert mainly featured festive holiday pieces, including arrangements of “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Let it Snow.” Some of the students wore Santa hats and one performer even had lights strung around their bow. Students who made All-Region and All-State orchestras were also recognized at the performance. Three students from the cluster made All-State, all of them seniors.  

     “My favorite piece from the concert was Sleigh Ride,” senior and violin player Olivia Domke said. “During the Vines performance, I even got to do the neigh at the end of the song.”

     Despite the cluster concert being finished, the orchestra has many big events coming up later this school year, including UIL. Furthermore, the symphony orchestra, a combination of the top orchestra and select members from the top band, will be participating in a national competition at a conference held by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) in Orlando, Fla. They were invited to perform after submitting a recording last year. 

     “I am most looking forward to attending the ASTA conference this spring,” senior and bass player Jake Dixon said. “It’s a huge opportunity for our symphony orchestra.”