First Ever All-Strings Concert

Pamela Wright and the OHS Strings / Photographer: Kristen Wilson

The Orcas Island School Strings Program debuted their first all-strings concert last month on May 18 in the high school gym, titled “Waltzing Through the Ages.” This all-district concert, including students from Beginning Strings through High School Strings, performed pieces from various musical periods. The concert incorporated third, fourth and fifth grade dancers taught by Stephanie Moss.

Pamela Wright, the Strings teacher on Orcas, worked diligently to prepare her students for the program, and had support from Monique Mead and Abbey Roemer, guests sponsored by the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. Mead and Roemer Skyped multiple times with each class that was performing, offering suggestions and guidance to make their pieces sound even better. “It was great to hear feedback from more than person,” one student said. The student continued, “Monique and Abbey helped my class with different bow techniques to achieve contrasting sounds. She also taught us how to create the appropriate articulation for our pieces.” Mead and Roemer came to Orcas to assist and perform at the all-strings concert.

The High School Strings started out the concert with Bach’s Badinerie from the Orchestral Suite No. 2. “Badinerie was definitely one of our hardest pieces this year, but we worked hard on it,” said high school student Skylar Dalusio. “With the help of Mrs. Wright, Monique, and Abbey, we sounded great and improved a lot.” The Baroque period section of the concert continued with more pieces, including Handel’s Sarabande.

The Romantic Period part of the concert included Brahms Waltz, performed by all of the strings students. Familiar pieces such as the Blue Danube by Strauss and the Skater’s Waltz written by Waldteufel were performed. “It was great to play and bring to life pieces that I have heard through my childhood,” said a high school student. “I’ve heard the Blue Danube and the Skater’s Waltz many times before, and it was fun to hear our class put it together.”
The concert was then followed by a performance of Twinkle Variations by Mozart, performed by Wright’s Beginning Strings class. “It was so fun to see kids who have just started playing pieces that I remember practicing when I first started playing cello,” said high school student Birdie Greening. “It’s amazing to be able to see how our music program can take students from Twinkle to pieces that my class had performed in past years, like Sinfonia No. 2 in D Major by Mendelssohn.”

Mead and Roemer then performed a virtuosic piece by Pablo de Sarasate called Navarra, embellished with flourishes and complex articulation. The crowd erupted in applause after their performance and gave them a standing ovation.
Folk music followed Mead and Roemer’s expert performance. Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell, Journey’s Open Arms and selections from the Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, arranged by Roemer, were performed by the High School Strings and Moss’ dancers