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Sweepstakes honors across the board for orchestra

Following+their+Friday+performance+at+Centennial%2C+the+Redhawk+full+orchestra+stand+outside+the+campus+auditorium+with+their+sweepstakes+award.+The+top+group%27s+performance+concluded+a+week+of+UIL+contests+for+orchestra+that+began+Tuesday+Feb.+26.
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Sweepstakes honors across the board for orchestra

Following their Friday performance at Centennial, the Redhawk full orchestra stand outside the campus auditorium with their sweepstakes award. The top group's performance concluded a week of UIL contests for orchestra that began Tuesday Feb. 26.

Following their Friday performance at Centennial, the Redhawk full orchestra stand outside the campus auditorium with their sweepstakes award. The top group's performance concluded a week of UIL contests for orchestra that began Tuesday Feb. 26.

Courtesy of Victoria Lien

Following their Friday performance at Centennial, the Redhawk full orchestra stand outside the campus auditorium with their sweepstakes award. The top group's performance concluded a week of UIL contests for orchestra that began Tuesday Feb. 26.

Courtesy of Victoria Lien

Courtesy of Victoria Lien

Following their Friday performance at Centennial, the Redhawk full orchestra stand outside the campus auditorium with their sweepstakes award. The top group's performance concluded a week of UIL contests for orchestra that began Tuesday Feb. 26.

Shreya Jagan and Lucas Barr

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All six orchestras received sweepstakes, the highest honor possible in the UIL Concert & Sight Reading competitions that took place Feb. 26-March 1.

“We’re beyond proud of all of our students,” orchestra director Julie Blackstock said. “For the past seven weeks we’ve had obviously our rehearsals and during class and the ensemble’s had rehearsals outside of class either before or after school. Some groups had even two to three rehearsals before or after school, so it’s definitely been a joint effort.”

Students began the competition by performing three rehearsed pieces before moving on to the sight reading portion where orchestras perform a piece they’ve never seen before.

“Sight reading is basically a way for the judges to see if the teacher has the ability to instruct and if the students can apply what the teacher is saying into the music,” assistant orchestra director Victoria Lien said. “Every one of our orchestras got a one rating in the sight reading room which means that this was the highest they could’ve received. Everyone did really good and it showed. Practice makes perfect.”

Sight reading prepares students for what’s to come as orchestra members need the ability to improvise on stage.

“It’s a lot of impromptu,” freshman cellist Rachel Lee said. “It kind of depends on how the students manage to take in the music as soon as it’s been given. Considering the fact that teachers only get eight minutes to help us understand the piece, it’s a little bit of pressure. But it really helps. We know what to look forward to.”

Not only does sight reading benefit the students and the helps the judges evaluate the performance, but it also aids the teachers so that they know how to teach the class for future performances.

“I think teachers learn how to bring groups of people together that have different interpretations on their music,” senior cellist Jack Easton said. “They learn how to bring the interpretations of that music and bring it into one holistic presentation. A lot of the teachers will just have their students plat one piece for the entirety of that year, and I think sight reading really pushes the teachers away from that because you have to be good at trying out new music.”

For sophomore violinist Nandika Chirala, seeing the performance come together on the concert day made the experience memorable.

“I felt like our performance went really well; we put a lot of hard work into it over these past few six weeks,” Chirala said. “My favorite piece was Tchaikovsky and the last part is like considerably harder and faster than like the rest of the piece for us. Just putting it all together and ending with that like grand finale was really awesome.”

The top orchestra had a unique experience as they went through the UIL process performing with band to form a full orchestra.

“You’re dealing with a lot more instruments than just violin, viola, cello and bass, you’re dealing with probably 10 different instruments beyond that,” Blackstock said. “It’s definitely a lot to put together and to practice but we’re really lucky at the school to have a great camaraderie with the band department and Mr. Weaver gave up at least one class period every week during 3A for Camerata and wind ensemble to rehearse during school.”

Senior cellist Kelly Sun tried to make the most out the concert with the performance being her final UIL contest.

“I really wanted to make this one special because this my last time and it’s probably going to be my last time doing full orchestra,” she said. “I really tried to make more friends, talk with people and also just make this performance the best that I’ve ever had.”

About the Writer
Lucas Barr, Editor-in-chief

Lucas Barr is a junior entering his third year of newspaper. After two years as a staff reporter, he is returning as editor-in-chief. He plays the violin,...

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Sweepstakes honors across the board for orchestra