Fall into Rhythm

Elaine Liu, Co-Print Managing Editor

With bows on strings, the musicians carefully watch their conductor waiting to start their performance with a swell of music. An uplift of two hands. A collective breath. A chord. That release rolls out a burst of energy from the orchestra’s center, wavering through the air and bouncing off the walls. A hand raises in the air. The orchestra stops– the warmth fading away– and listens to the conductor’s remarks.

These musicians have dedicated years to this process, committing a portion of their lives to musical performance. For the past month, Tompkins’s six orchestras have each rehearsed immersive pieces for their Autumn Serenade concert on October 4, which had two parts: a 5:30 p.m. show and a 7:00 p.m. show, each concert showcasing three of Tompkins’s orchestras. Senior Rachael Suh, the co-president of Tompkins Orchestras, believes the Autumn Serenade concerts mark a momentous first performance for every orchestra each year, making these performances particularly special.

“There’s a kind of excitement that comes with performing with a new orchestra for the first time, and the autumn concert is a great way to reinforce that excitement while also showing the audience a sample of the musical excellence that’s to come with this school year,” said Suh.

As the first concert of the school year, the Autumn Serenade also serves as seniors’ last first high school orchestra performance. To commemorate these seniors’ efforts in the orchestra program, each musician’s parent(s) places a pin on their uniform in the senior pinning ceremony. This year, Suh looks forward to wearing her pin after four years of musical commitment.

“I think it’s a great way to acknowledge all of the hard work and effort that the seniors have put into the orchestra program for the past four years,” Suh said. “While I’ll be participating in the ceremony this year, in previous years, I have always been excited to cheer for all of the seniors at the autumn concert and applaud their dedication to music.”

Audience members of Autumn Serenade should expect high quality performances and a deeper connection to music from all orchestra members. In particular, Suh’s group will perform Christopher Theofanidis’s A Thousand Cranes: I. Stars and Sonnets, her favorite piece for her orchestra for this concert. Although Suh initially found the piece intimidating, she soon fell in love with the music and its striking dissonance, dark melodies, and complex rhythms.

“At times, the piece seems to release a sense of urgency and adrenaline both in the performer and the listener, which I find incredibly captivating,” said Suh.

All orchestra students, parents and directors contribute to the concert preparation: students practice their parts at home; parents adjust and distribute uniforms; directors and officers work on the concert program. Suh believes the concert would not be possible without the behind-the-scenes preparations made by the orchestra program members. Every orchestra student has put hours of practice into their ensemble’s performance, and the concert represents an acknowledgment of their hard work.

“Not to mention, our orchestra directors, Mr. Porter and Ms. Marts, always spend so much time and energy to prepare engaging yet enthralling pieces for us orchestra students to perform,” Suh said. “As usual, they have thoroughly supported all six orchestras to ensure a spectacular performance at this year’s autumn concert.”