Prerequisite: 8th Grade Orchestra or equivalent ensemble instruction
The Concert Orchestra is open to all string students in grades 9-12, who are interested in playing intermediate to advanced orchestral literature for strings. Special attention will be given to developing and strengthening string techniques, and performance skills. The group is also a prerequisite course to Symphonic Orchestra, and focuses on developing the skills necessary to join that group in later years, though many students choose to stay in Concert Orchestra. The group performs at the winter and spring concerts, and combines with Symphonic Orchestra at Orchestra Festival in January and the Pops Concert in June. It occasionally plays throughout the community at other events. The Concert Orchestra is required to attend all rehearsals held outside of school time.
Since all Freshmen orchestra students go into this course, we have designed an FAQ section below.
Why Can't Freshmen be in Symphonic?
Well, you kind of are for 2 of the 4 concerts. Read on...
The set up here is a bit different from the middle school. In the middle school, everyone was in the grade level orchestras, ensuring strong student leadership in those groups which helps the performance and learning of the entire ensemble. Symphonic was a club, and you could audition to be involved...but were still in your grade level orchestra. At the high school, this is not possible. Running music clubs is far more difficult than at the middle school because of the multitude of after school activities that compete for your time (clubs, sports, volunteering, jobs, etc.) If all the strong players went to one orchestra it would implode the whole program (evidence supports this). There are also too many students to have one orchestra that has every string player in the program. Therefore, to preserve the experience for all players, we have adapted this model.
This group will own its own repertoire at the fall and spring concert. However, you will perform side by side with the Symphonic Orchestra at the Orchestra Festival in January and at the Pops Concert in June. In these instances you will get the chance to play full orchestra repertoire with winds, and the music is super fun (particularly for the pops concert where we do jazz numbers, film scores, and pop arrangements).
How Difficult is the Music in Concert Orchestra?
If you are an incoming freshman, you can imagine Concert Orchestra to be a step up in difficulty from the middle school Chamber Orchestra. If you weren't in Chamber as a middle schooler, that's ok. Chamber was about grouping the best players together, not about doing super advanced repertoire that was beyond your playing abilities. All of the repertoire middle school Chamber Orchestra played is appropriate for a strong 8th grade and an average 9th grade. The music for Concert Orchestra is geared more for a strong 9th grade and an average 10th grade.
What If I am an advanced player and want to play more advanced music?
If you are a strong player, you might want to stretch your skills and challenge yourself, which is understandable. Because Chamber Orchestra at RHS is still a club, you can join that group. It is less selective than at middle school, and not because it's a lesser quality group. It's because at RHS, Symphonic is generally more challenging than Chamber Orchestra, and a lot of the players in Symphonic are upper classmen who find that they are challenged enough and are really busy after to school and are happy there without needing something extra. The group is a healthy mix of upper and underclassmen.
We also have a fun club called Rockestra, where the students play string arrangements of rock music. You should check that out.
There are also plenty of opportunities to play more advanced music and make the most out of your experience in Concert Orchestra even if you are a very advanced player, the biggest of which is leadership. Cultivating leadership skills like student led sectionals and taking a hand in the administration aspect of the orchestra are just a couple of ways for you to become more invested.