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IMEC in Peoria

Emma Garlough

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Students in Kennedy’s Symphonic Orchestra – composed of the 8th-grade orchestra, select 6th- and 7th-grade string players, and certain 7th- and 8th-grade band members – have prepared all year to participate in an ILMEA festival in Peoria, Illinois on Thursday, January 25. To the great annoyance of many of the participating Panthers, this was the same date as the yearly field trip to the Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier in Chicago.


They left KJHS at 7:45 a.m. and traveled by charter bus for about two and a half hours. The buses – there were two of them – were equipped with restrooms and wifi, though the connection was unreliable. Though it was a source of annoyance to the students, Mr. Dethrow created a seating chart so that symphonic orchestra members stayed near their chaperone. There was one chaperone, on average, for every five students. They arrived at the Peoria Civic Center at about 10:30 and headed upstairs to eat lunch. After half an hour, the majority of students stood outside on the balcony, socializing and taking pictures while someone helped tune string instruments extra well for the concert. They went inside, filed into a room for rehearsal, and reviewed the parts they were having the most trouble with fifteen minutes later.


At 12:15, it was time for the concert. There were approximately 125 seats in the room and nearly all of them were filled. Some of them were parents, some of them were performers from other concerts at the Civic Center, and others were music educators from across northern Illinois. They played five songs: American Landscape, Brahms’ First Symphony, Peer Gynt Suite Selections, Overture to Nabucco, and Rites of Tamburo. The performance, deemed satisfactory by the majority of the students, ended at 12:45. They were awarded a plaque and participation ribbons for each student.


Kennedy’s musicians exited the room briefly and returned to watch the St. Charles East High School Chamber Orchestra play from 1:00 to 1:30. They, like Kennedy, played 5 songs. These included Libertango and the fourth movement of Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F, which Kennedy’s band had played at previous concerts. Afterwards, the symphonic orchestra split into two groups. The band members observed performances by jazz ensembles from Wood Dale Junior High School and Fenton High School, while the string players watched a master class with a small orchestra. At 3:00, they headed downstairs to see Dawn Weber and the Saint Louis Jazz All-Stars at the Composition Showcase Concert for twenty minutes.


Finally, students boarded the buses and were driven to Avanti’s where they had a buffet dinner. They ate and talked for an hour and a half before going back to Kennedy, arriving at 7:45, as planned. After a long day of creating and listening to music, the KJHS Symphonic Orchestra was allowed to go home and relax.

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IMEC in Peoria