Full orchestra takes a plunge into a national convention



The entirety of the orchestra comes together to astonish listeners.

Katie Gallaway, News section editor

     The full orchestra will be holding a special concert on March 2 at Christ United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. before they head to Orlando, Fla. for the 2020 American String Teachers Association convention.

     “The sendoff concert allows parents and students to hear our ASTA program since they can’t go with us to Orlando,” orchestra director Brian Coatney said. “It also allows performers who are unable to come with us to show off their hard work.”     

     The full orchestra is comprised of top players from both orchestra and band, and is conducted by Coatney, orchestra director Christopher Tran and band director Jason Lewis.The group was invited to perform and compete in Orlando this spring after submitting a recording of last year’s ensemble.

     “We’ll be participating in the National Orchestra Festival portion of the convention against other well-respected orchestras from across the nation,” Coatney said. 

     According to Coatney, it is the first time that the full orchestra has ever been invited to the competition, as well as the first time that the orchestra has performed out of state since 2002. 

     “We’ve spent a lot of time preparing some really difficult music that’s still incredibly fun to play,” senior Jake Dixon said. “I hope our program will help us be worthy of the title of national champion.”

     Their program is all-American, featuring pieces by well-known composers including John Williams, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and more.

     “My favorite piece is John Williams’ ‘Cowboys Overture,’” Dixon said. “I love John Williams for his film scores, so this piece, even though it is less well-known, is just as exciting for me.”

     The pieces they will be performing are far from easy. According to Coatney, the directors selected music that was challenging but attainable for the orchestra in order to ensure that they had a competitive program. 

     “The most difficult piece definitely has to be ‘Profanation’ by Bernstein, which I think is a unanimous decision by everyone in the orchestra,” senior Olivia Domke said.

     The students have been putting forth lots of effort in order to prepare for both their concert and the competition.

     “I hope that we win,” Domke said. “We have a really good chance with what we’ve prepared, and I know that we all believe in what we are capable of.”

     According to Dixon, getting to participate at the National Orchestra Festival is both a huge honor and a fun opportunity, and he’s very proud to represent the school’s fine arts program and the state of Texas as a whole at a nationwide competition.

     “I’ve always loved performing, so I’m really excited to finish out my senior year on a national stage playing advanced music literature with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever met,” Dixon said. “Winning first place and becoming national champion would just be the icing on the cake.”

     The full orchestra is looking forward to their sendoff concert to show off their program to friends and family before the big competition.

     “I hope we can draw a packed house that night so that the performers will be encouraged when they see all of the support from everyone, so please come out and watch,” Coatney said.