The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

Music Notes: In tune with the Hudson Orchestras

The story behind Sinfonietta, Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra at HHS
The+cello+players+of+Sinfonietta+practice+a+piece+for+their+holiday+concert.+Used+with+permission%2FA+to+Z+Photography%2FAlaina+Zsauldko.
The cello players of Sinfonietta practice a piece for their holiday concert. Used with permission/A to Z Photography/Alaina Zsauldko.

If you have ever walked by the auditorium during 7/8 or 9th period, you may have heard the faint sound of the violins, violas, cellos and basses of the orchestra coming from the other side of the heavy doors. But if you were to walk into the auditorium and fully experience the orchestra, you’d hear powerful melodies and harmonies that only countless hours of practice can produce.

Orchestra (strings) began as a small club in the 1960s and ’70s. In the early ‘80s, a dedicated teacher regularly came to the schools to teach orchestra lessons, which eventually evolved into a larger club for students in 6th through 12th grades. The Superintendent and Board of Education later approved orchestra to be a curricular class starting in the 1988-1989 school year.

Until 2003, there was only one high school orchestra. Enrollment grew to the point where a second orchestra was necessary to meet the needs of the students. The orchestras are currently divided into two ensembles: Sinfonietta and Chamber Orchestra.

Chamber Orchestra is credited as an honors class and is composed of 45 musicians. Roberto Iriarte, the Director of the Orchestras and Jazz Ensembles, shared “[Chamber] has a higher level of technical demands within their music and is for our more advanced students.”

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Senior Sherry Du serves as this year’s Concertmaster for the Chamber Orchestra and has played the violin since orchestra was first offered in 4th grade. Participating in orchestra through HHS has helped her create strong bonds with other musicians throughout the years. “I’m really happy to have found people where we are really quite close with each other even outside of class,” Du revealed. “We are really supportive of each other and I think [Chamber Orchestra] has been a very collaborative environment.”

Sinfonietta is for developing musicians who are still learning the ropes of performing at the high school level. This year’s ensemble is composed of 51 musicians, the majority of whom are underclassmen.

Seniors Concertmaster Zane Nold and second chair Sophia Zirneskie lead Sinfonietta as they begin a new piece. Used with permission/A to Z Photography/Alaina Zsauldko.

Senior Sophia Zirneskie is the second chair for the first violins in Sinfonietta and has also felt at home within her orchestra. Her connection to and love of music has only grown throughout her eight years of playing. “With the music we play in orchestra, there’s certain pieces that you feel in your body, your bones and your mind. You just get entranced into the piece and you feel like you’re actually there.”

HHS also has a Symphony Orchestra which includes Chamber Orchestra members as well as 22 musicians from the band. They rehearse after school and combine for several pieces at each orchestra concert.

All orchestras rehearse on the stage of the auditorium due to the lack of an orchestra room. “An orchestra room is one of the five things that were left off of Hudson High School when it opened in 1992,” Iriarte admitted. This was to come in under budget and ahead of schedule in completing the original construction of Hudson High School. Thankfully, the process of building an orchestra room has finally been approved and will hopefully come to be in the next calendar year. “It is the last thing to be put onto Hudson High School from those original plans for the building. We’re looking forward to having a modern space with acoustic treatments in the room like the new middle school has,” Iriarte commented.

The orchestras frequently put on themed performances. During their last concert, all music was Disney-inspired to celebrate 100 years of the Walt Disney Company. The previous year, their fall concert featured music from the Harry Potter franchise. For fall concerts, students are allowed to coordinate costumes within their section to match the theme due to the concert’s date being close to Halloween. Even Iriarte dresses up, with his more recent costume being Donald Duck since he was the “conducktor.”

In order to sound as precise as the ensembles are, practicing outside of rehearsal is a must. “Since I’m involved in a couple of other orchestras as well, I’d say I probably practice at least an hour a day,” Du shared. Along with standard practice, students need to prepare for “playing tests,” which are formative assignments that happen three or four times per quarter. These tests ensure musicians are using their techniques appropriately and that they know their parts for their upcoming performances.

Iriarte directs the Chamber Orchestra during 7/8th period. Sinfonietta rehearses during 9th period. Used with permission/A to Z Photography/Alaina Zsauldko.

Orchestra may take a decent amount of time and dedication, but the ensembles balance their hard work by creating fun experiences and bonding with each other during school trips. Both orchestras have the amazing opportunity to perform in places outside of Ohio this school year. Sinfonietta will be a part of a joint music department trip to D.C. and Virginia in April. Students will get to hear the National Symphony Orchestra perform in the Kennedy Center, experience the Busch Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg and perform at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk for adjudicators who will evaluate their performance.

Chamber Orchestra will head to Austria and Hungary in the summer for an international music competition, which they won back in 2006. “It’s a very exciting trip where we perform at music festivals shared with youth groups of the same age from all around the world,” Iriarte said. Other highlights of the trip include performing in a Vienna cathedral, exploring Bratislava—a city with cannonballs still stuck in the walls from the Napoleonic wars—and embarking on a “Sound of Music” tour where they visit the filming locations from the classic movie.

Some of the musicians have experienced their favorite memories of high school within the orchestra. “I still remember the first time performing on the stage at the high school level,” Zirneskie recalled. “I almost felt like a professional musician and was really happy to be playing around others I could share music with.”

It’s clear that having an orchestra is a vital part of Hudson High’s culture. Many students have gotten great enjoyment and invaluable experience from participating in the ensembles, and that legacy of musical excellence and camaraderie will endure for many years to come.

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About the Contributor
Ava Tallat-Kelpsa, Editor-in-Chief
Ava Tallat-Kelpsa is a senior in her fourth and final year of writing for The Explorer. As well as the newspaper, she’s involved with the Model United Nations team, Writing Club, Chamber Choir, Summit Choral Society, teaching PSR and interning at Destination Hudson. In her limited free time, she enjoys traveling, reading A Series of Unfortunate Events and buying more than necessary at garage sales. After high school, Ava plans to pursue journalism and creative writing at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
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