Orchestra students prepare for small ensemble festival

15 small ensembles will compete for a top rating next week


Maya Smith

Orchestra students perform in the atrium during lunch.

By Julia Barker, Features Editor

The orchestra small ensemble competition, a KSHSAA event, will consist of groups of high school orchestra members that will play and compete to score as high as possible. Their playing will be judged and given a ranking of 1 to 5, with 1 being the best.

The orchestra’s small ensemble competition will take place at Shawnee Heights High School on April 9. However, due to capacity, the LHS competing ensembles were determined by a concert on February 22. It was judged by the LHS orchestra directors, who chose 15 small ensembles, composed of the philharmonic and symphonic orchestras to compete in the competition.

The orchestra directors gave the competitors music for the competition that they will have roughly 6 weeks to learn and practice. In preparation, the ensembles try to efficiently learn the music in the time span.

“The music the directors have given us for the contest is challenging,” junior violin player Josephine Dee said. “We know it is going to be crucial to practice.”

The ensembles have also been using some techniques to productively practice together.

“We have been doing sectionals, where the different parts go to practice together, not as a whole ensemble,” junior violin player Ragan Mauldin said. “This has been really effective for our group.”

The players are hopeful about scoring well in the competition with their drive to practice and prepare.

“Our group is hoping to score a 1,” senior cello player Aidan Zimney said. “We think it is a very reasonable goal as long as we practice and stay sharp with the music.”

Orchestra has faced many challenges with juggling absences due to COVID and efficiently practicing for the competition.

“The challenges this year have definitely been the absences. People are variously being gone because they have been sick,” sophomore violin player Opal Morris said. “Just not having a teacher or our classmates or our partners not being there for a week has been the hardest thing.”

Despite the challenges, the ensembles continue to work through and prevail because of their close bonds. The group motivates each other to achieve at the highest level.

“I absolutely love playing in an orchestra not just for the music but also for the community,” Zimney said. “We’re a tight-knit group and I think everyone gets along super well.”