The AMIS Middle School Honor Orchestra festival took place April 7-9 in Salzburg, Austria. Eleven seventh and eighth-grade students represented ASL.
After many months of hard work and preparation, including private practicing and group rehearsals, the musicians were ready for the trip. However, they had not anticipated how much they would further improve over the next couple of days. In Austria there were three full-day rehearsals, from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. “Although the work was tough and the days were long, it was worth it for the sound and the feeling of group success,” said Hailey Vice, a seventh-grade cellist who attended Honor Orchestra this year as well as last year.
It was really exciting playing music in a group with people from different schools. The hardest part of rehearsals was putting the music together as a whole group as we had not played together before. Although we didn’t know each other, we were unified by the instruments as we played the music. We had a huge variety of music with different styles, rhythms and emotions. These pieces included Mozart, Green Day and Hispanic composers. We improved and learnt many different playing techniques, such as phrasing different bar measures and dynamics. Furthermore, we learnt how to be a productive orchestra member, through watching the conductor for queues and direction. The day of the concert was both exciting and nerve-racking, but it was really satisfying to go up on stage and share our music with an audience. The last note of the final song rang clearly in the air and was followed by a rewarding applause.
Although the participants were nervous about playing, it was exciting to share the hard work with an audience, and the concert was a huge success. Before they knew it, they were on their way home, trying to process the immense experience that they had. “It was like coming back from outer space to Earth, and it’s hard to explain the experience in words,” said Ms. Lorraine Davis, one of the orchestra teachers that accompanied us on the trip.
Not only did the trip help them with their music, but they also gained many great memories, experiences and met new people. The musicians got to experience Austrian culture, and saw tourist sights including Mozart’s birthplace and iconic scenes around the city from The Sound of Music. As it was an international celebration, they met people from many different places and connected through music. Throughout the trip, they all became closer as a school group, and returned feeling accomplished as musicians and friends. “I would totally recommend auditioning to anyone interested in music, and who would be up for a challenging yet unforgettable learning experience,” said Colette Wicks, a seventh-grade cellist.
Starting as individual students from all over the world, it was amazing to see how everyone could come together and unite as one orchestra under a common passion for music. Working together through rehearsals and practices, everyone was able to focus on one goal and deliver an outstanding performance that will be one to remember.