All-Island Orchestra concert is a rousing success

Photo by Lynn Christoffers

The first Annual All-Island Spring Orchestra Concert began with a guest appearance by the High School Orchestra. Conductor Mike Tinus explained that the young listeners would have to stretch their musical listening attention because the orchestra would be performing an adult concert piece that was about five minutes long. They played an excerpt from “Rosamunde.” Having been so challenged, even the youngest beginners were avid listeners. Although a long and difficult movement of music, it was a piece with dramatic flair and perfect for this elementary audience.

Next up — for “contrast” said teacher Nancy Jephcote — was the 61-member Beginning Orchestra. In their first performance as a large group, they rocked the house. Each beginning orchestra group had been rehearsing at their individual schools during the school day in small groups ranging from 5-15 students. The excitement was palpable as together they created a massive band sound accompanied by drum kit, electric bass, and piano. “Stop Gap Rock” was written for them by Ms. Jephcote. Fellow elementary instructor Chelsea Pennebaker conducted with style.

The Intermediate Orchestra raises its own bar every year, parents commented. A 31-member group that rehearses before school every week, they had been energized earlier this year by a field trip to Mashpee for the regional orchestral extravaganza, the String Jamboree, for which they had learned four pieces. They played three of these — “Can-Can,” “Mozart Serenade,” “We Will Rock You” — with zest, good intonation, and strong dynamics. They also premiered a Jephcote original entitled “Fair Winds” that they had mastered in three short weeks. The fourth Jamboree piece was held in reserve to be performed as a grand finale together with the Advanced Orchestra at the concert’s end.

The Advanced Orchestra offered seven short pieces, ranging from classical pieces such as “Landler” by Leopold Mozart;  Weber’s “Hunter’s Chorus,” “Concert in Vienna,”  “Summer Stomp,”  and on to “Under the Boardwalk,” played with a cha-cha rhythm section. Next they switched gears with “Fiddlers at Shady Gulch” for which Ms. Jephcote pulled out her own instrument and added a cajun fiddle improvisation over the top. Of particular note throughout their performance were their stellar intonation, multiple stylistic bow technique, and sheer pride in performance.

The concert came to a fitting conclusion as the Intermediate Orchestra joined the Advanced Orchestra for “America the Beautiful.” Fifty instrumentalists — one for each state —  performed the National Anthem.