Orchestra pre-records winter concert

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Etta Singer, Contributing Writer

Three cameras panned the scene in Gross Theatre, capturing the music played by eager musicians, as the HM Orchestra recorded its semester virtual concert last Monday. Though it was the first time the whole orchestra played together all year, the modified concert ran smoothly, violinist James Grant (11) said. 

The recording took place in Gross Theatre instead of the Recital Hall, where the orchestra typically rehearses, to ensure social distancing. Due to class size restrictions and the school’s COVID-19 protocols, the 65 student orchestra never had the chance to rehearse as an entire group before the afternoon of the recording. Instead, the upperclassmen and underclassmen were rehearsing during separate F and H period classes. “It’s always a little different to play with other people, but it could have gone a lot worse,” violinist Alejandro Espejel (11) said. 

Remote learners, such as violinist Maeve Goldman (9), who was quarantined because a student on her bus had contracted COVID-19, did not get to be a part of the group recording. Instead, they needed to record on their own time, she said. 

The recording will replace an in-person annual holiday concert and will be released to the school along with all the videos from the other ensembles on Wednesday, December 16. The orchestra had to record before the school moves to HM Online 2.0 after Thanksgiving break, as they are the only group recording in person. “We had a whole month less to prepare so maybe the piece wasn’t as good as we could have made it,” cellist Ana Melián (12) said. Students were nervous to play together as a whole orchestra for the first time, but ultimately, the concert went well, she said. 

Usually, the orchestra has a much longer performance, but this time they only prepared and recorded two pieces, violinist Yui Hasegawa (10) said. The first was a movement from a classical Mozart composition, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. “[The piece] is very well known so everyone has a general sense of melody,” Hasegawa said. Orchestra Director Nathan Hetherington is known for his unique song choices for his orchestras, but this year he went with a more traditional approach so that everything could run efficiently, she said.  

Though the repertoire looks different this year, the orchestra still upheld traditions with its second piece, the Toy Symphony, which they perform annually. “The Toy Symphony is something to look forward to every year,” violist Stella Cha (12) said. Every year, the seniors have solos on toy instruments while everyone else accompanies them. The Toy Symphony is more for the seniors than for anyone else, but everyone knows they will eventually be the one in the spotlight, which is why it’s such a fun tradition, Espejel said.

This year, the seniors will film their toy parts separately, but they rehearsed as a group on Wednesday. “It’s not the same without the toys,” Melián said. Melián feels that part of what makes the Toy Symphony tradition so special is how “funny” the toys are.