Draw in the still air and catch your breath. Hold it in ever so slightly until the first bow slides across the strings, perfectly and simultaneously in tune with the entire ensemble. It’s almost as if you are a member of a string army with fathomless sounds coming from the cellos and bass, violas and violins piping and chiming, and the extended, graceful arms of the conductor, Sandra Shaw, guiding you into battle.
This year your very own Loy Norrix Orchestra has reached perfection.
“I knew we were going to do well, but we were the only orchestra to get straight 1’s,” violinist Ashley Bynum said.
Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) is an organization that holds festival every year. The state is broken up into classes, like how sports have divisions. Schools are given scores based on their performance. Scores go from 1 to 5, which 1 being the best possible. It starts district-wide then from there, depending on scores, schools can continue to the state-wide level of this competition.
Thirty-seven ensembles attended the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association festival in Plainwell, Michigan on February 27. Seven ensembles received “superior” ratings but Loy Norrix’s orchestra was the only orchestra to do so.
“[Orchestra] is a very traditional art, and I enjoy seeing how different people come together to create a very complex final product,” said Bynum.
In Shaw’s four years of teaching the orchestra at Loy Norrix, enrollment in the program has been increasing by about ten students each year.
“We’ve come so far with Mrs. Shaw has been pushing us more each year, we’ve only gotten better and better,” cellist Syri Ruynan said.
Loy Norrix’s Orchestra did not actively compete in this event until last school year, when they also got straight 1’s across the board for all five categories. The categories include: tone, intonation, rhythm, technique and interpretation.
This event holds many rules and regulations including at least one song must be chosen off of a previously decided list. Schools also get to prepare three pieces to play with as much rehearsal as the teacher decides to practice beforehand. Because of snow days and all other absences, sometimes the bands and orchestras have a shortened time to learn the music.
“This year, [the orchestra] learned to play more challenging music in five weeks than they normally would have in seven,” said Shaw.
Although the orchestra has decided to not go onto states, they represented District 11 exceptionally well and instead of participating further, they plan on preparing for their upcoming spring events and music to come.
Shaw advocates for the upcoming concert with the full orchestra, including winds and percussion, on May 11 at Chenery Auditorium.