Winter Orchestra Concert to Take Place December 17


Courtesy of James Robinson

Pictured is the cover of the Winter Orchestra Concert program. All four of State High’s orchestra groups will perform in the Dec. 17 concert.

Sophia Bills, News Editorial Assistant

The halls of State High come to life each December with music from the school’s talented orchestra, choir, and band students. State High’s annual Winter Orchestra Concert will take place on Friday, Dec. 17, and will be held in the school’s Performing Arts Hall. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and features a repertoire of holiday and classical music sure to make for a lively evening.

Performing at the Winter Orchestra Concert are all of State High’s orchestra groups: Ninth-Grade Orchestra, String Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Symphonic Orchestra. The concert is open to the public, and concertgoers can park in the high school’s upper parking lot (accessible off of Westerly Parkway or O’Bryan Lane) and enter through the back entrance. Admission is three dollars.

Orchestra director James Robinson encourages the community to attend to enjoy the work of and support students involved in the arts.

“Supporting arts in our community is an important thing, whether it’s at the scholastic level, or a semi-professional level, or a professional level,” Robinson said. “And, you know, another thing is—look at all the bad things that are going on in schools. It would be better to replace them with beautiful things than with negative things. And showing young people that we support that goes a long way to encourage them.”

First chair violinist and State High senior Nika Kello points out that this winter’s selection of music is exciting and certain to appeal to an audience of all ages.

“It’s going to be a very fun, entertaining variety of music, and there’s definitely going to be a good combination of familiar pieces, some more traditional classical pieces, and some really fun holiday music, so it’s definitely fun for everyone,” Kello said.

One highly-anticipated piece that appears to be a fan favorite among the orchestra members is “The Barber of Seville,” an opera overture by Gioachino Rossini. Robinson is especially eager for his students to perform this well-known piece. Symphonic Orchestra will also play a festive rendition of “Sleigh Ride.” 

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun, and it’s Symphonic Orchestra, so there’s a lot of people playing on it,” Robinson said of the overture.

Symphonic Orchestra not only includes string instruments but also woodwind, brass, and percussion sections that together produce a full and remarkable sound. Like Robinson, Kello is looking forward to Symphonic Orchestra’s performance of “The Barber of Seville” above all.

“I’m definitely looking forward to all of our pieces; I’m really looking forward especially to ‘The Barber of Seville’ just because that’s a very challenging piece for everyone, and it’s a great opportunity for winds and brass to come together with the orchestra,” Kello said. 

Many of orchestra’s most instrumental members are seniors like Kello who have been with the program for their entire high school careers. This winter’s concert will be one of their last at State High. Ahead of the concert, Robinson took a moment to reflect on his orchestra students’ hard work and resilience throughout the challenges of the past several years, including not only the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, but also the music department’s difficult move from its old space in the North Building during the 2018-2019 school year. The music department was one of the only programs remaining on the North campus, which is now home to the Delta Program, amid the demolition and construction.

“[I’m proud of my orchestra students] for sticking with it after all the crazy stuff in the last few years, most especially the seniors that did not ever really have a normal year in orchestra,” Robinson said. “One year, it was the move, the next year [was] the lockdown. And the year after that, the crazy A-B quasi-remote [schedule], so they never, ever had a normal school year. So for any senior to make it through that is really inspirational.”

Now that some of those challenges are behind them, the orchestra can channel its attention purely toward making music for the community to appreciate. On that note, Robinson and his students hope that their Dec. 17 concert will bring smiles to many faces.

“I think it’s gonna be a great concert and that it should make a lot of people happy,” Robinson said.