Members of concert band work to play the soaring melodies of Crowns of Glory by Jack Wilds during their winter concert. Because of the pieces difficulty, the band had to work together extra diligently to make it sound concert-ready. [Band has] helped me [with] teamwork because its not just an individual thing. The whole group has to be put together to make something amazing, Concert Band member and sophomore Ella Bruner said.
Members of concert band work to play the soaring melodies of “Crowns of Glory” by Jack Wilds during their winter concert. Because of the piece’s difficulty, the band had to work together extra diligently to make it sound concert-ready. “[Band has] helped me [with] teamwork because it’s not just an individual thing. The whole group has to be put together to make something amazing,” Concert Band member and sophomore Ella Bruner said.
Cindy Phung

A symphony of sounds

Orchestra and band deliver a week of extensive musicality

Over Feb. 27-29, gold brass and steel strings captivated audiences day after day as a week of musical talent unfolded. As the sounds of trumpets and cellos echoed down the halls,  celebrations of music on each day captured the blend of academia and art. Filling every available seat, family and friends arrived to witness the harmonies of traditional instrumental music, leaving with a respect for the determination of these student musicians. Across four back-to-back performances, the orchestra and band produced ensemble pieces that highlighted both technique and emotional connection, showcasing their dedication to the art of bringing music to West High.

The week began with the orchestra’s annual winter concert, a medley of classic symphonic pieces alongside jazz and popular music that explored the versatility of orchestral music as a medium of expression. The next day, the band continued the winter concert train with their own take on a journey through birth, life and death in the form of a musical depiction of the human life cycle. 

The third day featured a combined concert and chamber orchestra field trip to MSHSAA’s Large Group Ensemble Music Festival, a state-wide event of euphonious evaluation for group student orchestras, where they achieved the accomplishment of an Outstanding-level rating in performance. The symphonic orchestra followed them in attending the festival on the fourth day, earning themselves an Exemplary rating. 

However, these four days reflected more than the performances produced; with months of preparations on both ends of the music department, these moments mark the final triumph of endless efforts from student musicians. With daily practices, students sacrificed time in hopes of ultimately creating bodies of art that told a story through the power of sound. Regardless of the outcome of each day’s performance, the dedication of these students to creating music remained at the forefront of every achievement.

Following orchestra director Ed Sandheinrichs tempo, members of symphonic orchestra focus in on their music during their Winter Concert. In order to sound cohesive on stage, the players had to work together and learn off of each other. [Orchestra] gives you the ability to persevere through hard things. Youre not always going to love everything you play, and it teaches you to work hard even when you dont like what youre doing, senior and symphonic orchestra member Cora Tiemeier said.
Following orchestra director Ed Sandheinrich’s tempo, members of symphonic orchestra focus in on their music during their Winter Concert. In order to sound cohesive on stage, the players had to work together and learn off of each other. “[Orchestra] gives you the ability to persevere through hard things. You’re not always going to love everything you play, and it teaches you to work hard even when you don’t like what you’re doing,” senior and symphonic orchestra member Cora Tiemeier said. (Cindy Phung)
Day 1: Orchestra concert

Orchestra kicked off the musical week on Feb. 27 with their annual winter concert, featuring members of the concert, chamber and symphonic sections. Additionally, the concert included a performance by the orchestra’s cello-only section, known as the Cello Choir. 

The concert followed months of preparation in the effort of musical cohesion and unity. Under the guidance of orchestra director Ed Sandheinrich, each section worked to perfect their respective pieces. 

“We’ve been preparing [for the concert] since November, on and off, with in-class rehearsals. Symphonic [Orchestra] also had a couple of clinicians come in,” Sandheinrich said. “We got ready in class every day.” 

The process of preparing for a performance like this one is not straightforward or easy, due to the complexity of the music. However, despite setbacks and issues while rehearsing, the players worked to make everything sound clean and polished by performance day. 

“[In our] last concert, we didn’t do so well. There [were] a lot of intonation issues, and our playing wasn’t together. What we did to fix that was record and listen back to our playing a lot, and Mr. Sandheinrich gave us a lot of feedback,” Cello Choir member and freshman William Tanudyaya said. “[During] this concert, we were looking to show off our hard work.”

The pieces that the orchestras performed ranged from the exalted work of classic composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich and his “Waltz No. 2” to the melodies of more modern tunes like an arrangement of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. 

“My favorite song to play [was] “Stand by Me.” I didn’t really know the song when we started playing [it], but I grew to like it. Playing it at the concert was fun because there [were] high notes,” Tanudyaya said. “You could really make it sound beautiful.”

A piece that the orchestra performed where their hard work was apparent was the Symphonic Orchestra’s performance of “Two Elegiac Melodies” by prolific romantic-era composer Edvard Grieg. 

“I feel like we have a good interpretation of [Two Elegiac Melodies.] The kids were playing it really well: [it’s] probably the one that they played the best,” Sandheinrich said. 

The piece, divided into two distinct sections named Hjertesår and Våren, was part of a unique opportunity for students taking Creative Writing 1. Collaborating with English teachers Dan Barnes and Shannan Cremeens, Sandheinrich featured ekphrastic poems written by three different students in the concert program. Ekphrasis, the act of writing a poem in response to a piece of music or work of art, is taught in the curriculum of Creative Writing 1 around the same time as when the orchestra rehearses for the winter concert.  

“The connection between music and writing is the connection of the humanities. Art can’t help but inspire more art,” Barnes said. “Through writing, we are able to connect, empathize and value the human experience.”

Barnes, Cremeens and Sandheinrich were very satisfied with the poems that ended up on the final program and plan to continue collaborating in the future. Outside of “Two Elegiac Melodies,” the concert overall was a moment of reflection for all the players about their journeys as musicians during the year.

“The improvement of the orchestra overall was noticeable from the start of the year when we first got [the pieces] to the actual concert, so I’m happy with the improvement,” Concert Orchestra member and freshman Adam Thomas said.

The connection between music and writing is the connection of the humanities. Art can’t help but inspire more art. Through writing, we are able to connect, empathize and value the human experience.

— English teacher Dan Barnes

Concerts like these are just one of the ways that the orchestra program allows students to form bonds with each other and forge friendships around the music that they play. 

“My favorite part of orchestra is the friendships. Because it’s a teamwork-based class, you play together, you have to work together [and] if you’re not in tune, you can ask your friends for help,” Thomas said. “[Orchestra] also made me look at other people’s perspectives, making friendships [that] really changed my outlook on a lot of things. I’m grateful for [it] and all the things [it] taught me.” 

Overall, the winter concert served as the culmination of months of hard work by the orchestra. 

“[Music] is such a big part of who we are, and to learn about, appreciate and connect to [it], it’s such a nice thing to do,” Sandheinrich said. “During your day, there’s a lot of subjects where you’re using your brain in the same way, [but] when you take a music class, you start using your brain differently.”   

Captivating the audience with every note, members of symphonic band play during their annual winter concert. The band concert was just one of four distinct performances by a musical ensemble during the week of Feb. 26. [Band] is a place where everyone can be themselves and express and share what they have to offer. [Its] a class where you have the opportunity to meet other people and be a part of something special, band director Brad Wallace said.
Captivating the audience with every note, members of symphonic band play during their annual winter concert. The band concert was just one of four distinct performances by a musical ensemble during the week of Feb. 26. “[Band] is a place where everyone can be themselves and express and share what they have to offer. [It’s] a class where you have the opportunity to meet other people and be a part of something special,” band director Brad Wallace said. (Sage Kelly)
Day 2: Band concert

The musical festivities continued the next evening, Feb. 28, with the band program’s winter concert. The concert, hosted at the Principia Ridgeway Auditorium, featured performances by the middle school band as well as the high school concert and symphonic bands. 

“We’d been working on the music since the middle of November. The biggest challenge [was] making sure everyone [knew] their part,” band director Brad Wallace said. “It’s like a big puzzle.”

A motley of different moods and tones that showed their talent, a lot of the music that the bands played was far from simple. 

“I really like lyrical pieces like [our second song “Variations on a Korean Folk Song”.] [It] was probably the most difficult for [symphonic band]. It was the longest [piece] with a lot of different tempos and sections; we did a good job putting it together so I’m proud of us for that,” symphonic band member and senior Alex DeLuca said.

Other highlights from the concert include the sentimental piece “With Every Sunrise” by Robert Sheldon, written in memory of Sheldon’s lifelong friend Kris Robert Sebens. Portraying a journey through grief, the piece blends together moments of emotional turmoil and poignant resolution to create a unique listening experience. 

During the concert, Wallace and fellow band director Jacob England took time to congratulate members of the Symphonic Band who qualified for All-Suburban and All-State band, titles reserved for those who excel in their knowledge of music and their respective instruments.

“I was genuinely shocked; I didn’t think I was [going to make it.] [Making All-Suburban band] is difficult. You get a packet right before school ends, and you have the summer to prepare it,” DeLuca said. “I didn’t practice it that much over the summer, but in the weeks leading up to [auditions for All-Suburban band], I practiced every single day. It’s a lot of work.”

Symphonic Band member and sophomore Cara Purdy also scored status as an all-suburban band member. Purdy was also one of even fewer people to qualify for All-State band, which she headed to Columbia, Mo. to audition for.  

“I had two auditions [the day of competition], and my first audition went terribly, but I guess [the judges] saw something in me and gave me a callback. [After the second audition], we were on our way home, and I [got] a message from one of my band directors. Then I [looked] at the list and [saw] that I made it and screamed,” Purdy said. 

While each band played their setlists without any problem on the day of the performance, their cohesive sound was actually the result of multiple months of meticulous practicing and tweaking.

“[‘Crowns of Glory’ by Jack Wilds] was the majority of our time during class. There was a lot of blending between instruments. It took a lot of time,” Concert Band member and sophomore Ella Bruner said. 

Nevertheless, the Winter Concert was a night to remember for everyone involved, filled to the brim with ringing melodies and emotive cadences. The accomplishments of the band as a whole were a great example of the strength of the community and the passion of the band members. 

“[Being in band] means the whole world to me,” Purdy said. “We’re dedicated people [and] it’s an amazing community to be a part of.”

Overall, band and music classes offer a unique learning experience for students who participate in them, existing in a separate sphere from the coursework of everyday classes.

“There’s no other class like [band] in the building,” Wallace said. “It’s a class where we all work together towards a common goal.”

Every year, members of orchestra head to MSHSAAs Large Group festival to be graded by a panel of judges on their playing. The judges feedback helped the players recognize how they could improve their performances. [Large Group Festival is] important so we know individually what we can do to improve and also as a group what we can do to play better and increase our sound quality, Symphonic orchestra member and sophomore Victoria Gold said.
Every year, members of orchestra head to MSHSAA’s Large Group festival to be graded by a panel of judges on their playing. The judges’ feedback helped the players recognize how they could improve their performances. “[Large Group Festival is] important so we know individually what we can do to improve and also as a group what we can do to play better and increase our sound quality,” Symphonic orchestra member and sophomore Victoria Gold said. (Nikhita Cherukuri)
Day 3 and Day 4: Large Group Ensemble

Ending the week on a high note, the orchestra performed yet again on Feb. 29 and March 1, this time traveling to Lindbergh High School for evaluation through the MSHSAA Large Group Ensemble Music Festival. The concert and chamber sections combined for their performance while symphonic followed suit for their separate evaluation the next day. 

The Large Group Ensemble Festival event follows a process of performing a series of songs in front of judges, who evaluate qualities of musical cohesion, technique and emotion. Afterward, the group moves to a separate room, tasked with sight-reading an unfamiliar piece of music and judged on their ability to perform it cohesively on-command. 

“There’s something different about performing for a judge that makes people really focus and prepare, so having that angle has helped us focus a lot in class to get things done,” Symphonic Orchestra player and senior Cora Tiemeier said. 

The orchestra is then evaluated based on a five-scale rating, ranking highest to lowest from Exemplary to Ineffective. Through the feedback of the rating, the students were able to visualize the techniques to improve upon based on judge commentary. 

“It’s important to get feedback from another person’s perspective because if it’s just your peers and your teacher telling you, you’ve already heard the same thing over and over, and it blows over your mind,” Concert Orchestra member and freshman Sara Ashok said. “We know we weren’t the best, as some of our intonation was definitely off, [but] to learn about what we’re doing wrong with our music and spots that we could fix was a good experience.”

Despite the constructive criticism, the judges’ feedback also praised the orchestra on their impressive technicality and cohesion, providing the students with not only a boost of self-confidence but also an understanding of where the orchestra’s quality of sound lies. 

“[The feedback] was accurate. We’ve been working on these songs for a couple [of] months because we did them for the concert, Large Group and for All-Districts next week and the ratings reflected [that work],” Symphonic Orchestra member and sophomore Victoria Gold said.  “I also like being able to perform in front of a judge [because] we know what we can do to improve individually and as a group to play better and increase our sound quality.” 

The orchestra worked to perfect their pieces from the winter concert for the Large Group Ensemble Festival, practicing with an emphasis on tone, intonation and unity. Beginning with Kirt N. Mosier’s “Danse Estrangé,” a percussive melody that developed the cultural sounds of traditional South American music, the Concert and Chamber Orchestras delivered a striking introduction to their lineup of songs. 

“We played “Danse Estrangé” the best because the intonation was all together. We worked hard on it for a solid three months before [Large Group] so the rating was well-deserved,” Ashok said. 

Consequently, the connection between the members of all groups of the orchestra increased as they worked extensively under the common goal of producing a well-executed performance. 

“Orchestra class is a group activity. You have to be willing to work with people and know that you don’t always know right. You just have to keep improving; how much you do will impact the class,” Tiemeier said.

Additionally, the Large Group Ensemble Festival offers a unique experience in that after performing, the orchestra can watch orchestras from other schools play for evaluation. With this opportunity, the students receive a firsthand connection with other performing orchestras while being able to study their musical techniques. 

“It’s fun to listen to different groups because every group is going to have their own way of playing things and their own artistic interpretation of music. It’s cool to listen to how their group works together,” Tiemeier said. 

Overall, the environment of performing for a professional judge and receiving an evaluation serves as a space for musicality to grow. Through the Large Group Ensemble Festival, members of the orchestra gained a sense of unity and resilience under their efforts for the performance, coming out of the field trip with not only high technical ratings but a community experience to learn from as well. 

“[Large Group] gives you the ability of determination to persevere through hard things. It teaches you how to be versatile. You’re not always going to love everything you play, but the outcome teaches you to work hard,” Tiemeier said. “When we get our scores, it helps us see where we are, but it also gives us a boost to see that all that work we put in wasn’t for nothing. It’s good to hear, and it’s good to learn how we can make our future pieces even better.”

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About the Contributors
Risa Cidoni, Features Editor
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 11 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "Where the Crawdads Sing." Who is your hero? My grandma. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Green grapes.
Cindy Phung, A&E Editor
Pronouns: they/she Grade: 11 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky. Who is your hero? My dad. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Sushi.
Samir Shaik, Multimedia/Sports Editor
Pronouns: he/him Grade: 11 Years on staff: 3 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Rainbow Fish." Who is your hero? My mom. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Peaches.
Nikhita Cherukuri, Staff Writer
Pronouns: Any pronouns except he/him Grade: 9 Years on staff: 1 What is your favorite piece of literature? "Two Can Keep a Secret" by Karen M. McManus is my favorite murder mystery. Who is your hero? My mother. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Sushi because there are various types of sushi, giving various options.
Sage Kelly, Staff Writer
Pronouns: he/him Grade: 9 Years on staff: 1 What is your favorite piece of literature?  "Of Mice and Men." Who is your hero? My mom. She's the hardest-working person I know. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Chicken souvlaki from Greece.
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