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Orchestra Concert

Aastha Chouhan, Reporter

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On Wednesday, May 9, the Kennedy 7th and 8th grade orchestras played in their final concert. The performance was held at Madison Junior High School and was a conjoined concert for all of the District 203 middle schools. All the junior high orchestra directors, including Karen Campbell, Shawnita McClure, Laurie Pettit, Rebecca Rudy, and Jerry Zitko, were present to help the concert go smoothly. This special concert also had a featured guest; Randy Sabien, an internationally famous jazz violinist.

During the school day, all of the middle school orchestras met at Madison, where Sabien conducted a two hour clinic. He talked about improvising and getting a true feel for the jazz style and preparing the pieces of music they would be playing that evening.

The concert itself was an event to behold. With over 200 seventh and eighth graders playing, the performing group was massive, creating an astonishing effect. Randy Sabien conducted all of the junior high pieces and added in his own improvisations and solos, which incorporated another layer to the music.

First the group performed a song called Fiddlin’ Casey Jones (arr. Andrew Dabczynski) – an upbeat traditional American folk song, resembling the movements of a train. Next up was Soldier’s Joy (arr. Andrew Dabczynski and Bob Phillips), a simple song that was repeated many times, adding new rhythms and layers each time. This song also had a special student solo option, in which students could voluntarily perform an improvised solo for the crowd. Many brave students stepped up to the challenge, and sounded fantastic.

Then it was time for the Teacher Act. Traditionally, at every May concert, the junior high orchestra directors perform their own song for the audience and the students. This year the directors were accompanying Randy Sabien, playing the song Cozy’s Beat (C.J. Eggleston). The swinging performance was followed by a sentimental portion to the evening – a farewell to the orchestra directors who were retiring this year.

Mrs. Laurie Pettit and Mr. Jerry Zitko were retiring from the District 203 orchestra program after over 30 years of service. With an emotional slideshow and live music performed by the other directors, there were some tears shed.

Next the junior high students were back in the spotlight, playing The Groove Goes On (Randy Sabien and Bob Phillips), another song with opportunities for solos. The concert came to an end with Bees are Boppin’ (Thom Sharp), a lively jazz song to wrap up the fabulous night.

With this concert, another successful year of learning and teaching music in the junior highs comes to a great close.

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Orchestra Concert