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Westport orchestras serenade crowd at festival


A crowd of hundreds piled into the Staples Gymnasium on Thursday March 19 at 7:30pm to attend the 2014 Westport Orchestra Festival. The event combined both the melodious sounds of the 7th and 8th grade Orchestras from Bedford and Coleytown, and the incredible talent of the Staples Symphonic Orchestra and Sophomore Strings Orchestra.

David Wiener introduced the festival with an anecdote about his experience in discovering his love of orchestra, as he is retiring from his position as Music Supervisor of Westport Public Schools at the end of the 2014 school year. He quoted Plato, who said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,” perfectly capturing the way in which the orchestras filled the gym with music on Thursday night.

All the orchestras were animatedly conducted by Jonathan Yates, the Music Director of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. “My message to all young musicians is to just enjoy it. Music is a love you’ll have your entire life. It doesn’t have to be something you do professionally, it’s something you will always have for the rest of your life,” Yates said.

Both 7th Grade Orchestras gracefully began the night with the exciting “Twilight Ceremonial”, a piece by William Hofeldt, followed by “Toreador Song,” composed by Bizet and arranged by Frost: a piece so lively that it had the whole audience bobbing their heads and swaying to the up-best rhythm.

Then, both 8th Grade Orchestras played Overture to “Lucio Silla”, composed by Mozart arranged by Dackow, intricately from start to finish, and closed with “Blue Rhythmico” composed by Kirt Mosier, a piece with raging intensity, performed with concentrated emotion.

As the middle school portion of the concert came to a close, the exceptional, award winning violinist, Katie Zhou ’14, backed up by the talented Symphonic Orchestra, played the challenging “Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25” composed by Bizet-Sarasate. Jaws were dropping with each beautiful note Katie played in her solo. “It was such a honor to show all I have learned in the Westport music system,” said Zhou. “To be able to play in front of such a big audience of Westporters was really a great experience.”

After the sweet sounds of “Carmen Fantasy Op. 2” erupted into cheers and claps, the Symphonic Orchestra and Sophomore Strings became one, and played “Danzon No. 2” composed by Arturo Marquez, a sweet piece to end the concert.

Hannah Simons ’16, member of both orchestras, was overjoyed with the festival. “Getting to hear the 7th and 8th graders play was great, and Katie’s solo was mind blowing.” Simons said. “I’m so proud of all the orchestras and glad that I could be a part of the festival.”

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When she first joined Inklings her sophomore year, Jane Levy ’16 was scared to raise her hand in class. She lacked confidence in her voice and her skill.   But she stuck with it, and now, she can’t imagine what high school would be like without it. “Inklings defines my high school experience,” Levy, who is now the Editor-in-Chief of Inklings, said with a smile. Though she loves journalism, it’s the people in Inklings who make her experience meaningful. “Through Inklings I have made my best friends,” she said. “I would have missed out on so much had I not joined.” Being a part of Inklings has taught her that with freedom comes responsibility and that what you put in you get out. “The lessons I have learned in Inklings transcend into all aspects of my life,” she said. “I am so fortunate to be leading this class, club and community.”
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Deanna Hartog ’16 is ready to bring her enthusiasm and energy from the stage to the newsroom. Hartog, one of the Sports Editors, has been acting since sixth grade and believes the skills she has acquired on stage will play a role in her work for Inklings. “Acting has allowed me to become a better speaker,” she said. “It really taught me that you need to think about what you say before you speak.” While Hartog is not a member of Staples Players, she has done numerous shows through community theaters and has performed at Curtain Call. She said the improvisation skills these shows have taught her will help her when she conducts interviews. “It’ll help with making people feel more comfortable,” she said. “Acting definitely helps with social skills.” This year Hartog hopes to become an involved editor, who can help her writers while managing her own articles. “I want to push myself to struggle so that I’ll work harder,” she said. “I took Intro [Journalism for Publication] last year and I just wanted to do more. I love it.”

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