Orchestra Plays Into A New Season

Orchestra’s first concert of the year was held on October 25th. As early as 5:45 p.m., students began gathering throughout the school to prepare. The four groups (Eagle, Concert, Symphonic, and Chamber), had been working since the beginning of the school year to put together a memorable performance. As the audience members began to pour in, many students felt more anxious than they do most other concerts during the year. The students dressed in their Halloween costumes and played songs like Zombie Tango and Themes from Harry Potter.

“[Before the concert], I was really nervous; I couldn’t stop laughing. I was nervous because I was towards the front, and I saw so many people in the audience. It was a different experience. I had to keep a straight face the whole time or else I wouldn’t make it through the concert. One challenge I had was trying to stop shaking and picking at my hands,” said freshman Alejandra Chavarria-Rea.

With the amount of faces in the crowd, students like Alejandra felt a little intimidated. Other orchestra members felt this concert was unlike previous ones because it was their first one of their high school music career.

“This one felt like we played better, and also because it was my first high school concert; it was special. I felt like it was a lot more professional because of the set up and because the stage was much bigger, and there were more people,” said freshman Alexis Steinmetz.

There are multiple reasons for the sense of achievement felt by the students. Many feel as though they have improved, and grown to love the instrument and music they play.

“This concert felt different from others because I’m in a different group of people than I was last year. I had to learn to work with them, and I think it taught me to be more patient. My favorite part would be getting to learn the music and finally being able to play it right. It also helped that I liked the music, because it just makes the process more enjoyable as a whole,” said sophomore Nicole Brotherton.

Despite the total time of practicing in and out of class adding up to over 10 hours, players don’t hear the full piece until it is played on stage. Hearing everything come together is a special feeling, especially when that is combined with the knowledge of how far you’ve come.

“After the concert, my parents and I went over my old concert videos from when I started out. Seeing how I played from 5th grade, sixth grade, even last year! It felt very surreal. It is times like those when I feel the most accomplished,” said junior Aminata Conteh.

With a new year, classmates, and even school for some, the first concert sets the pace for the rest of the year. Along with a season of change washing over OHS Orchestras, a new director has shifted the direction of the winds. Starting this school year, Ms. Latoya Lamons took the role of OHS’s orchestra teacher, director, and conductor. With this being her 30th year teaching, Ms. Lamons was very well-prepared. That, however, does not mean she does not face any difficulties that come with the changing of schools.

“Manassas is a much smaller school district; one high school compared to 34 high schools.  There is not competition so we much compete against ourselves, and push ourselves to excel. A great deal of intrinsic motivation! I want all of my students to know that each of them matters and they each contribute to our overall success. So, the most difficult part is convincing some students of their worth and capability. The rewarding part is – I think most are starting to believe that I truly care and as a result, they are beginning to care as well. Once this happens there is no where to go but UP!” Lamons explained.

Orchestra is heading in a new direction, and the first concert is only the beginning. The players are undoubtedly excited and ready for the upcoming year. The next concert, which takes place on December 13th, will be full of holiday songs and cheer! Chamber and Symphonic orchestra will also be performing at Holiday Fest.