Last Friday, a party of over 240 departed from Odle Middle School before 6th period and set off toward the Mount Hood Community College to attend the annual Northwest Orchestra Festival. The convoy of four buses traveled over 180 miles to the city of Gresham, Oregon.
Dinner was at a buffet called Sweet Tomatoes. The director, Barney Blough, said, “We had to make reservations for dinner. I would call a restaurant and say, ‘Yes, can we have a reservation for a party of 200?’” The two orchestras on the trip then stayed at Quality Inn for the night.
The next morning, over 20 schools met at the community college to listen to each other perform. Some exemplary performances came from the Shorewood High School orchestra, the Olympia High School chamber orchestra, and of course, the Odle Middle School Academy Orchestra, who had attended the NAfME Northwest Division Conference, also called the All-Northwest Convention, earlier this year.
The division of the full symphony orchestras, had three orchestras in it: the Odle Symphonic Orchestra, the Odle Academy Orchestra, and the Curtis Jr. High orchestra.
The Odle Academy Orchestra is made up of mostly 8th graders, and a few 7th graders, while the Odle Symphonic Orchestra is made up of mostly 7th graders and a few 6th graders.
The Odle Academy Orchestra received the first place award with a score of 83.5, defeating Curtis’ orchestra by a narrow margin of 7.5 points and taking back the 1st place Full Orchestra title from last year, where Curtis defeated the Academy orchestra. The Academy orchestra played Dance of the Camorrists from the opera The Jewels of the Madonna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Slavonic Dance Op. 46 No. 8 in G Minor by Antonin Dvorak, and Adagio Molto and Allegro of Symphony No. 104 in D Minor from “London” by Franz Joseph Haydn. The Symphonic orchestra played Egmont Overture by Beethoven, the Tannhauser Suite by Richard Wagner, and Seguidilla from the Carmen Suite by Georges Bizet. The Symphonic Orchestra scored 78.5 points, higher than Curtis, but received third for understandable reasons.
The Academy Orchestra also was invited to play at the NAfME All Northwest Convention, which was on February 18th.
“It was a very exciting and stimulating experience,” says Justin Wang, a violinist in the Odle Symphonic Orchestra.
To keep giving middle and high school experiences like this amid the possible funding cuts for arts programs will be a true challenge for the exemplary music groups of this region.
This article was written by Andrew Chen, the concertmaster of the Odle Symphonic Orchestra.