PV orchestra’s preparation for Large Group

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Photo taken by Jeanelle Cho

Violin sheet music with student’s markings for Large Group.

Jeanelle Cho, Copy Editor

While the school year is coming to an end, the PV orchestra is staying busy in preparation for their performance at Large Group Musical Festival, held at Bettendorf High School, on May 3.

Large Group Music Festival is an opportunity for many musicians to perform and receive division rankings from judges. At this festival, schools across the community can see how they rank as musicians compared to the other schools.

The PV orchestra has participated in Large Group for 11 years and has been very successful, receiving Division I’s, the highest ranking, for their string orchestra performance every year since 2008.

At Large Group, the orchestra must perform anywhere from seven to 18 minutes. Because there isn’t a set of music that is required to be played at the festival, orchestra directors get to choose pieces they believe best fits their orchestra ensemble.

PV orchestra director Robert Swinney explained the process the orchestra takes in preparation for Large Group. “We start working on our [Large Group] pieces in January –actually in preparation for our March concert–that way, students get exposure to the music earlier,” Swinney stated. “As large group approaches, we get those pieces ready again and spend more time on the details and kinks.”

While in years past the orchestra has been ready for Large Group by the time May rolled around, this year was a challenge in means of prep time; this was due to the unusual amount of snow days and the schedule change in March. Swinney stated, “I had to rethink and tweak rehearsal schedules due to the snow days, so I added a couple more eighth period rehearsals to make up for the lost time.”

However, because the orchestra works on the pieces for nearly five months, the students, as well as Swinney, feel confident in their performance.

Mahum Haque, a senior viola player, believes the extra rehearsals have prepared her for Large Group. “I feel ready [for Large Group] because we had several practices and eighth period rehearsals. I feel like I am prepared and know the music pretty well because we started them so early,” Haque stated.

Going to Large Group Music Festival is important for the orchestra. “Large group is our opportunity to perform in a public setting where other people in our community will come and critique us,” Swinney said. “This is also our opportunity to see how we measure up to other orchestras in our community.”

Haque agreed that Large Group is an unique experience for her as a musician. “I find it beneficial because I get to see other schools perform and how those schools perform their pieces,” Haque said. “Large Group allows me to learn and grow [as a musician].”

With less than a week left until Large Group, Swinney, as well as the students in orchestra, are busy rehearsing and are in anticipation to see how they do this year. Their performance is on Friday, May 3, at 7:04 pm and is open to public viewing.