Teen musicians hit a responsive chord at Modesto Junior College High School Orchestra Day, an annual celebration of music in public education, as organizer Anne Martin put it.
There was more to celebrate this year, with orchestra back at Beyer High and a growing orchestral program in its second year at Johansen High. About 250 musicians from nine schools participated, Martin said, significantly more than last year.
Students performed works by Brahms, Grice, Holst, Newbold, Purcell, Smetana and Vivaldi. Each high school also performed a 10-minute selection of orchestra repertoire. The event ended with the Irish reel Finnegans Wake, performed by more than 200 string musicians.
Grandparents Greg and Barry Schroeder were among those listening. Barry Schroeder said she was pleased with Johansens music program under Brad Hart. Hes done a lot of things with that group, she said. Granddaughter Meghan Hildebrand, a senior, said shes in band, jazz band and orchestra classes this year.
Shell be marching through neighborhoods for the bands holiday fundraiser the evenings of Dec. 6 and 13, a Hart innovation that includes parents riding in golf carts. After years of stiff budget cuts to music, any amount raised is a help. But Hart said the community reaction has been the greatest reward.
Musics coming back to the schools, said retired high school and college teacher R.J. Moriconi, sitting in the audience. He came just to enjoy hearing the young musicians perform, calling much of what he heard superb.
Its starting to come back, bits at a time, said Gregori Highs Dan Bryan. Bryan set up Gregoris program four years ago, creating a music technology program but not a marching band. The switch felt like a good fit for Gregori, he said, and students from many disciplines are filling the classes.
At Beyer, Marcos Rivera is a director of ensembles this year. He said with the orchestra back, band director did not fit. Among his students are freshmen Stacey Olea and Amanda Lial, both violinists excited to be watching the other bands. In a Modesto High arrangement of Lion City, string players put aside their bows and thump a beat on their wooden instruments. The pair deemed the technique really cool and awesome.
Their own turn on stage was a first for the Beyer orchestra. Playing in front of your peers is always nerve-wracking, Amanda said. Her assessment: better than expected.
Gregori cellist Emjay Hanna said performing comes easy. I always have fun when I play on stage, she said. These are not just my friends. Theyre really family.