By Kristen Wilson for Music Advocacy Group (MAG)
“We couldn’t ask for better news,” said Pamela Wright, Music Director for 5th to 8th grade string groups and chorus. On the heels of Orcas High School’s outstanding performance at the regional contest in Bellingham, the 5th to 8th graders have come home from their Bellingham music contest with their own collection of superior and excellent ratings.
“This is the best possible news for our young students and for what it says about the health of our music program at Orcas, and the fine young musicians coming up in it,” added Wright. Thirty musicians from the 5th to 8th grades attended the Washington Music Educators Association regional contest at Kulshan Middle School on Saturday, February 2. “This is the first time ever, that I’m aware of, that students from the Orcas grade school or middle school have attended a music contest,” said Martin Lund, Band Director. “And to come away with scores this outstanding – well, it’s just remarkable.”
The 5th and 6th grade chorus, singing “Amani Utupe” (Grant Us Peace) by P.Simms, received a II or “excellent” rating. Working as a team, and self-directed, the choir accompanied themselves using three xylophones and a drum. The judge commented on their good sound and liked the combination of the instrumentation. Members of the choir who performed at the regional contest include: Ame Exton, Maya Heikkinen, Kayleigh Horton, Taylor Morrison, Madison Pollock, Katarina Schiller, Mason Scoggin, Arla Sutton and Camryn Thompson.
The 5th and 6th grade strings performed “Galactic Odyssey” by D. Monday and impressed the judge with their playing. “How exciting!” she said. “I am so happy to hear you. It’s amazing how well you stayed together.” The group received a I+ or “superior” rating. Members of the strings group included: Olivia Brunner-Gaydos, Alyssa Johns, Sydney Johnson, Amelia Kau, Ronan Kau, Alexandra Marney, Nathan Smith and Paris Wilson.
The Middle School Strings performed an arrangement of “Theme from Canon in D” by Pachelbel and received a I or “superior” rating. “I have so many compliments I don’t know where to start,” began the judge, who then added that it was one of his favorite pieces. “And you have a great bass line to tune to with your cellist who is playing in tune, because I taught her,” he said, referring to cellist Hailee Stevens. Members of the Middle School Strings include: Michael Chesher, Joanne Mietzner, Olivia Smith, Hailee Stevens, Evan Tidrington and Emily Toombs.
Five brass players from the 5th and 6th grades came together to form the “Orcas Grade School Brass Ensemble”. The group, comprised of Ewan Lister, Phaedra Osborn, Luke Pietsch, Liam Tidrington and Dominick Wareham, played “The Five Guardians of the Brass Ring” composed by Orcas’s own Martin Lund. “Some really good playing, and really good listening,” commented the judge. “Very well rehearsed.”
In addition to the musical skills and bravery shown by the above performers, three courageous young musicians played solos at the competition. Henry Moe played “Le Petite Fleur” by Martin Lund on the Eb alto sax. “I am blown away,” said the judge. “You are an up-and-coming saxophone player. You really get it!”
Paris Wilson played the first two movements of Handel’s “Sonata #3” on violin. The judge said she was “a wonderful player” and complimented her “awesome” dynamics and “lovely tone and expression.” Devon Mann played Mozart’s “Serenade from Don Giovanni” on trumpet. “This is the first time I’ve heard a nice big trumpet sound all day,” said the judge. “Well done!”