The orchestra performed on Dec. 20 at the Annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago, IL. At the conference, students in the orchestra performed ten compositions from a wide variety of genres in front of an estimated six to seven hundred band and orchestra directors and professional musicians. “We tried to make the concert program very eclectic so that the audience heard a wide variety of styles and genres,” Band Director and Assistant Orchestra Director Todd Summers said. “The piece I conducted—there was a Latin dance flavor to it, and a ton of mix meter, so it fit really well into the overall program because it was different than the rest of the pieces.”
The conference organizers required the orchestra to include at least 40 percent of the pieces in the program as compositions from the year 2013. In addition, for every piece designated with a high difficulty level of five or four, there had to be an easier piece, with a level of difficulty ranging from a level of one to three. “I picked things that I thought would be unusual and challenging to the listeners ear as we performed our concert,” Orchestra Director Sandra Lewis said. “I am extremely proud of each and every one of them; they all showed personal and musical maturity.”
After its performance of an hour’s worth of compositions, the orchestra received a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes from audience members. “It was really amazing,” Lewis said. “We were the last concert of the convention, and just to have that many elite audience members show their appreciation was amazing.”
Co-concertmaster sophomore William Copeland thought his orchestra directors did an excellent job preparing the class for the conference. “Our teachers did a really good trying to reduce the pressure,” Copeland said. “The performance went really well.”
The conference included performances from only four high school string orchestras this year; Gunn is the first orchestra from California to perform at the clinic in over ten years. The other three high school orchestras that performed were from Flower Mound High School in Flower Mound, Texas, Louis D. Brandeis High School in San Antonio, Texas, and Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona. The orchestras performed in three separate concerts. Copeland thought that the other orchestras sounded excellent, but believes that Gunn performed the best. “We have an amazing orchestra,” Copeland said. “[We are] probably one of the best school orchestras in the world.”
The orchestra’s next goal involves submitting a recording to American String Teachers Association (ASTA) next year or the following year.