AHS Ensemble

AHS Ensemble

Arcadia High’s String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble hit all the right notes as the two musical groups earned a superior rating at the 2019 Arizona Band and Orchestra Director’s Association (ABODA) State Concert Festival. 

It was an exciting result for both groups, but perhaps even more special for the AHS Wind Ensemble, which had not qualified for the State Festival in over 25 years. Although the last time it did, in 1993, it also earned a superior rating then as well. This was the second year in a row that the String Orchestra earned a superior at State. 

The superior rating is the second best that can be earned and signifies a quality performance from the group. 

“A superior rating may have minor issues, but for the most part, the piece is played with musical integrity,” said AHS Director of Bands and Orchestras, Jan Gardner.

In order to advance to the State Festival, musical acts must first pass through an ABODA Area Festival with a rating of excellent or better, which is one step below superior. AHS attended the Area Festival at Camelback High School.

To compete at the Area Festival, musical acts learn three pieces to play and perform a required sight read.  

“A sight read means the groups are given music, which they’ve never seen, and after quickly reading it, they’re supposed to play it,” Gardner said.

Groups are allowed to bring one piece from the Area Festival, but they must learn two brand-new pieces as well for the State Festival.  

This year, the Wind Ensemble played Fidelity March by Karl King, Appalachian Morning by Robert Sheldon and Regenesis by John Higgins.

The String Orchestra chose Pieces of Eight by Richard Meyer, Ice Sculptures by Brian Balmages and Adventure on Bainbridge Island by Alan Lee Silva.  

A week after the State Festival, the two groups traveled to Anaheim to participate in the Music in the Parks Concert Festival held at Disneyland. They played some of the same music from State and they earned another superior rating.

“I was very excited to hear our scores from the State Festival and Music in the Parks,” Senior Violist Emily Roll said. “We had worked for a very long time to get to those places and we were nervous going into them. But in the end, our hard work paid off big time. I was very proud to be a part of that orchestra and I wish the very best for them in the coming seasons.”

“It was an amazing experience to display our talents and watch our hard work pay off twice,” Junior Clarinetist Lainey Durchslag said. “Not only in Arizona, but in California, too.”

The String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble meet daily year-round with enrollment open to students in all grades. Concerts are performed in winter and spring with musical festivals dotting the calendar in-between.