The Apache Pow Wow

A Performers’s Take: Orchestra Benefit Dinner

Jasmine Oang, Staff Writer

Readers often only get the audience’s perspective of a concert or show, but what about the painstaking nerves that occur moments before the stage lights shine? Including the stress of finding a viable outfit and having to memorize three arguably lengthy pieces of music, here’s a performer’s take on the Orchestra Benefit Dinner.

Similar to other classes, Orchestra members have to study for tests. One may underestimate the idea of a test in a performing arts class, because how difficult can it be? Well, when it comes to memorizing not one, not two, but three pieces, it can become slightly overwhelming. Especially when one of the pieces is four pages long! Why do performers have to memorize pieces when they just read off a stand anyways? For better or worse, during the Orchestra Benefit Dinner, there is no stage, and there are no music stands for them to place their sheet music on. They performed scrunched up in between the tables inside the Arcadia Masonic Center surrounding the audience with a blanket of sound.

In addition to the three pieces, ensembles also perform as guests arrive as well as throughout the event. Just to be clear, ensembles are not optional. Everyone in Orchestra goes through and selects a piece with an ensemble of two to eight people. They have about two weeks for the entire process from selecting a piece to rehearsing and performing. At times, scavenging for suitable ensemble pieces can be the most difficult part out of the entire process. Seriously, it’s impossible when all your friends play the viola and you’re the only one that plays the violin. Try finding a quintet with four viola parts and one violin part (hint: it doesn’t exist). Despite days of procrastinating and finally stumbling upon a few feasible pieces, they doubtlessly need to rehearse. Unlike the full orchestra, every mistake is heard. So, when it comes to performing, they gathered up their self-respect and dignity and play their best. Because it’s not just an audition, it’s a grade. For the dinner, ensembles are filtered out through the test and selected to perform.

After overcoming numerous tests, Orchestra 1, 2, and 3 come together for a full rehearsal of our three pieces outside in the PAC Courtyard after school. This rehearsal is the only rehearsal they have all together before the event. Unlike other performances, performers are scattered and often separated from their usual, designated section. This makes it more difficult when trying to remain in sync with the rest of the Orchestra and can sometimes end in disaster. So, for the combined rehearsal, the conductors, Ms. Chen and Mr. Forbes, encouraged the shuffling so everyone was well prepared.

At times, the date of the event can seem eons away; however, it creeps up on performers and can be stressful when looking for an outfit. This year’s theme: Strings Olé!, required performers to dress pertaining to Latin American culture or fiesta attire. Performers arrived decked out in an array of vibrant colors and set the mood.  Well, where do they find embellished skirts and ruffled sleeves? They had no idea either!

Despite all the struggles and frantic attempts to seem presentable in various ways, they actually have fun. They panic together and rely on each other to survive tests, quests for costumes, and for rehearsal reminders. Out of all the hardships, you make some of the greatest friends in Orchestra.

Photo courtesy of RONALD LEE

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A Performers’s Take: Orchestra Benefit Dinner