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All three schools (Memorial High School, Spring Branch Middle and Memorial Middle) perform Orpheus in the Underworld, the final song of the Memorial Cluster Concert at the Don Coleman Coliseum. (Photo: Danielle Prontka)
On Dec. 13, at the Don Coleman Coliseum, 300 musicians set the scene. Each one brought their instrument, their music and their talent to the stage.
Several SBISD schools gathered for the first-ever Cluster. The performance consisted of songs by three elementary school fiddler programs, two middle school orchestras and the Memorial High School orchestra.
The concert began with the fiddlers, going through renditions of several simple songs, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The fiddler programs at these elementary schools are known to be some of the best. Students learn the fundamentals of music playing and performing at young ages, which can be influential in their later life.
The beginner orchestras of Spring Branch Middle School and Memorial Middle School played next, followed by the intermediate and advanced orchestras of the two schools. The orchestras may have performed after only a few rehearsals together, but they did so incredibly well.
After the middle schools played, the recipient of the Hess award was announced. The award, named for Harold Clyde Hess, is given annually to a single senior in the high school orchestra. This year, Josephine Jamison was awarded with the title.
“I am looking for several things in the Hess award winner,” said Danielle Prontka, the Memorial Orchestra Director. “Someone who has excelled in their craft. Someone who helps others by teaching or mentoring. Someone who maybe goes out into the community with performing.”
The high school orchestra went on to play several songs, including Veni Veni. The song consists of a cello quintet, accompanied by the rest of the orchestra. Several cellists audition, but only five make the cut. The concert ended with a single song, played by both the high school and middle school orchestras together.
The Cluster Concert was made interesting by each level of playing, and how much a musician can improve over the years. Personally, I believe that every performer in attendance learned from the experience.