Symphony Orchestra Master Class
An Open Letter to the Parents of the Students in the Symphony Orchestra
As a state school, Strathmore is somewhat unique in the fact that it can offer its music students an opportunity to experience all the techniques necessary to rehearse, refine and eventually perform as a member of a Symphony Orchestra.
I appreciate that this requires extra commitment and application from the students but I see and hear its reward in the rehearsals and performances that I attend. This is reflected in the correspondence and feedback that I receive from the community.
Our music teachers themselves combine worldwide orchestral experience to enable our students to have, as close as possible, a professional orchestral experience. I thank them for their dedication to the Symphony Orchestra.
The annual Symphony Orchestra Masterclass, with professional conductor Roland Yeung, was held on Tuesday 5th September. A letter from Roland, which is included in the following link, should consolidate in your mind how fortunate your child has been to experience such a stimulating and rich environment. I do hope your child is able to be invited to be a part of the 2018 Symphony Orchestra.
Ms Susan Peard, Head of Music, invited me to be guest conductor for the Symphony Orchestra Masterclass on Tuesday 5th September in the Performing Arts building. This is the third year I have had the pleasure. This year the orchestra has been conducted by John Clark, a professional musician and teacher.
The masterclass was for just over an hour after school. Firstly, the orchestra performed In The Hall of The Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg, as the work the students knew well and had performed several times already, including at the annual Mid Year Concert in June. They showed me how well they could play and their depth of skill level. We then worked on March to The Scaffold from Symphony Fantastique, a standard repertoire orchestral work and a masterpiece, composed by Hector Berlioz in 1830. Despite the orchestra only having read the parts for the Berlioz for a month, the players could play their parts.
The students in the orchestra met every challenge I put to them. They improved the accuracy of the rhythm and intonation. They showed they could read an unfamiliar part and still work together. They showed they could listen to each other and make fine adjustments to their blend and balance. These are all very fine adjustments that made the orchestra sound so good. I appreciated how much the students concentrated and played with discipline so they could fully display their wonderful musical skills. The small audience in attendance showed their appreciation through their warm applause and comments about how impressive the students were in their improvement.
The masterclass concluded with a tribute and thanks to the departing Year 12 players, as this was the last Symphony Orchestra event for 2017. It was a wonderful time to acknowledge their contribution to the orchestra over many years. These students showed that it was possible to combine a full study program with an active involvement in learning an instrument, playing in the Symphony Orchestra and being a leader and inspiration to younger players.
Mr Roland Yeung
Guest conductor Symphony Orchestra Master Class