Four ninth grade orchestra students were selected to perform in the Iowa Junior Honors Orchestra on Nov. 20 in Ames. Sheldon Deng (violin), Ryan Longenecker (violin), Keegan Schmidt (cello) and Morgan Kaiser (cello) will spend one day practicing with the other students selected before a concert that evening.
Students were nominated by their teachers and had to prefect a different solo piece depending on their instrument.
“Students have the opportunity to perform under a different director with different students. It’s a great opportunity to challenge students with new music and a fast day of rehearsals to prepare for an evening concert,” orchestra teacher, Megan Cooney, said.
The students selected are split into two orchestras with the same size and ability. These Bettendorf students will be a part of the Philharmonic Orchestra and will be under the direction of Dr. Louis Bergonzi from the University of Illinois.
The orchestra will be performing “Four Royal Dances” by Eric Ewazen, “Allegro in D for Strings” by Antonio Vivaldi arranged by Frankenpohl, “Andante from Violin Concerto in E minor, 2nd movement” by Felix Mendelssohn arranged by Bergonzi and Persion Passion for Strings and Percussion by Jeremy Woolstenhulme
“I like being challenged and learning hard pieces and being successful at them,” Longenecker said.
“No matter what mood I am in, playing the cello sends me into a new world so it’s just me and the sound and it gets me away from reality,” Kaiser said.
“Playing at home relaxes me and it is a fun activity to participate in,” Schmidt said.
The students selected have also participated in various honors orchestras, chamber orchestras and Quad City Symphony programs.
“It’s a great opportunity to challenge students with high level music. They get to practice and perform with the top students in the state pushing them to play better and showing them the competition they will have in the future when auditioning for All-State,” Cooney said.
“I want to be a high school or middle school conductor or maybe even a solo artist when I grow up,” Kaiser said.
Iowa Junior Honors Orchestra is open to musicians in seventh through ninth grade.