DHS Orchestra: Talent + Community


Mackenzie Boucher

The DHS Orchestra rehearses recently in the Auditorium.

DHS’s music program includes the orchestra, the fluid melody to the staccato rhythm. What the orchestra lacks in competition or theatrics, it more than makes up for in talent and community. 

It was 9:01 a.m. last Thursday before the vacation, and I was waiting patiently in the hallway between the Chorus Room and the Band Room. On the right side of the hallway “Oops I Did it Again” was filling the hallway with an ironic cinematic element. It was accompanied by several karaoke contenders and the occasional whoop and other vocal expressions of excitement. On the left, a singular violin could be heard playing Sonata IV, and a singular bass playing a piece more reminiscent of Louisiana. The hallway was bright with the ceiling, floors, and walls all the same shade of too-bright beige, making the hallway resemble more of a cardboard box. 

An hour later the auditorium stage was compact with cellos, violins, violas, and three bassmen. Director Heather Church conducted and counted keeping the 70 students in time. As I set up in the empty audience, the orchestra was working on Romance in F Major by Beethoven, a regal piece reminiscent of Bridgerton if it was more classical. Olivia Jasmine was featured for the piece, standing among her sitting peers as if to make a claim. The auburn wood of the instruments, a unifying factor between students of all different styles and stature. The bows a sword, vigorously staking the air to produce musical masterpieces. 

Next, the Studio Ghibli piece, conducted by Michael Daniels, was in motion. Piano flowed in and Amy Chang’s violin soon accompanied. The piano and the violin harmonized together as if in waltz with each other. Slowly other instruments followed suit. Devon Fuentes played the piano, he also transcribed the piece for the Orchestra. The piece was called “Merry Go Round of Life” from Howl’s Moving Castle and it resembled one in the seemingly light rise and fall of music. The musicians themselves were somber and in focus, professionals on stage. 

Senior Olivia Jasmine has been practicing violin for 10 years, and the music program has made a significant impact on her life. “It has given me the skills to work with others and support others well,” she says. “I look up to Ms. Church. I am going to school to do exactly what she’s doing.” Heather Church and the orchestra has directed her future because of the passion for music that the program supports. “It brings a lot of joy into my life. I want to continue that.” 

Senior Amy Chang  coincidently has been with her violin for 10 years. She is featured in “Merry Go Round” and enjoys the piece thoroughly. She shares the sentiment of wanting to continue her passion past high school. “It [orchestra] improved my appreciation and my general school. It takes a lot of coordination,” she said. She credits this to the orchestra’s conductors Michael Daniels and Ms. Church. “I couldn’t imagine not having orchestra in my life,” she said. Ms. Church is one of the main constants I’ve had since I’ve gotten to this school, and Mr. Daniels has been great ever since he got here: very friendly, very open.” 

Having that connection with music and the instructors is one to be envious of. The positivity that encircles the orchestra over a shared love of the program. Talking with musicians has made me realize the continuity of emotion that coincides with playing an instrument. At an opportunity to talk about that, they are extremely honest and candid about their experiences.

The orchestra may not have extravagant costumes or statewide competition, but it is talent rich and an underappreciated gem of the music department’s crown. 

End Notes

  1.  “Last Friday Night Dynamite,” “YMCA,” and “Rasputin” would also play. Kudos to song selector.
  2.  I would find out it was for Amy Chang’s college audition because I rudely interrupted to ask what she was playing. 
  3. You might recognize her as Medusa from the indoor percussion show. She will major in music, and she has completely embraced the role of Medusa, sporting a snake charm necklace during the interview, matching the ones that all the dancers also got.
  4. Avoided saying this out loud as much as possible. Didn’t matter how many times I am corrected, in my defense I can only say coordination properly 50 percent of the time.