Western States Honor Orchestra

Several Smoky Hill students are auditioning for the Western States Honor Orchestra.

Loralee Bandy, Staffer

Maya Stevens with her violin.
Loralee Bandy
Maya Stevens with her violin.

Western States Honor Orchestra Festival  (WSHOF) auditions are due by next Wednesday, September 17th. Members of the Symphonic Orchestra class have been preparing with the materials for months, and are recording their auditions this week and the following week either with their private lessons instructor or the orchestra teacher Ms. Peele. Senior Chloe Park and Junior Maya Stevens are two violinists striving for greatness and acceptance into this high-level group through hard work and the support of those close to them.

“The Western States Honor Orchestra only accepts about 100 string players from across Colorado, Wyoming and Utah,” said Ms. Peele, the teacher for both Symphonic and String Orchestra at Smoky. “The audition material is selected from collegiate and professional level orchestral excerpts.”

Even playing the music at the expected level for auditioning can be tremendously difficult. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outsiders, states that an understanding of any subject at an expert level takes about 10,000 hours of working on it.

The WSHOF 31st annual Weekend for Strings from Thursday, November 6th to Saturday, November 8th at The University of Northern Colorado. It is a terrific opportunity for students to pursue orchestra into a higher level and continue to develop skills with performing. Audition results will be posted on the WSHOF website by 5pm Friday, October 3rd.

Chloe Park, Concert Master for Symphonic Orchestra, has been playing violin for 7 years and takes private lessons. She hopes to be admitted into the honor orchestra this year. She has been practicing the audition material, which was released in May, for about one hour a day for three to four days a week.

“I use a metronome for tempo and pitch,” says Park. “I do the scale first to warm up, then excerpts, then solo.”

The violin excerpts are from Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39. The piece of her choice is a 2.5 minute excerpt of the ten minutes of music, Chaconne, as played by Sarah Chang.

Continuing to work hard, Park looks forward to improve collaboration and teamwork as well as making music together with the orchestra group if she’s admitted into WSHOF. She was in the Cherry Creek School District Honor Orchestra for her 9th and 10th grade.

Maya Stevens is currently in Symphonic Orchestra as a first violinist. She has been playing violin for around 8 years and has had a private lessons instructor for all 8 years. She used to play in Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra in the Symphonia group throughout her middle school years.

“I want to see what it’s like to play with peers of a higher level and see what the different conductors are like.” Stevens claimed. “It’s more or less to see what the other players do and how they solve problems [similar to the ones I face].”

She is recording her audition next Tuesday, September 16th. She typically practices one hour a day, sometimes up to two hours, every day of the week. Performing the sheet music for auditions since June, Stevens looks for what she knows the judges expect to hear, including proper tone, playing the notes in tune, and accuracy in her playing.

“[The piece of choice] is called Adoration. It’s from Felix Borowski. It fit my style, because any other choice would’ve been too fast or complicated for my level. My teacher [private instructor] recommended it to me. I’m good at it.”

Both talented violinists hope to be accepted into WSHOF this year. Each of them mentioned Ms. Peele as being supportive of their playing and a being a push to audition and excel. Ms. Peele prompted them to audition and has helped them throughout the long process.

“We have Smoky Hill string players accepted into this group every year,” states Ms. Peele. “WSHOF is one of the greatest opportunities we offer for young string players that are interested in pursuing music at the collegiate level and professional-level playing or teaching.”

For more information, visit http://www.unco.edu/arts/music/WSHOF/default.html.