The Whitefish High School orchestra has been preparing for yet another event.
The district music festival which happens in a different town in Montana every year brings together different high school orchestras from around the state to form one large full orchestra which includes percussion, a luxury most high school orchestras don’t have on a daily basis.
To make this possible, Whitefish High School music students, mainly orchestra but a few band students this year also, will board a bus and travel down to Bozeman, to participate in this annual extravaganza. For two days, students will be divided into two full orchestras each learning and perfecting an assortment of songs to play in a public concert at the end of the workshop.
Two conductors will be brought in to teach the students and give them a fresh perspective on the music they have been preparing. Dr. Steven Amundsen, a professor from St. Olaf’s college who teaches and conducts the St. Olaf’s orchestra, one of the best undergraduate orchestras in the United States, will conduct one orchestra and Dr. Gordon Johnson from the Great Falls Symphony will teach the other. This privilege is not something that high school students are given very often. WHS orchestra and band members are lucky to be able to participate in an event such as this one, where they can be taught by a professional conductor and a college professor.
Along with practice for six hours each day, students will be given the opportunity to explore the town of Bozeman too. Eating at local restaurants and exploring the downtown area. The change in scenery and some special degree of freedom allows students a disruption from the monotony that can accompany everyday school life. Opportunities like this one are exciting and new, so much so that those who may not see an orchestra as something fun, will in this case.
For weeks the WHS orchestra and a selective band have been rehearsing an assortment of songs to prepare for this. Along with a large performance done by two full orchestras, each individual orchestra will have prepared two additional songs to perform on their own, including WHS, giving another opportunity to perform in between the winter and spring concerts back home in Whitefish.
Students, regardless of age or musical ability, enjoy the annual trip. The experience is not something many get to see and WHS orchestra looks forward to it, this year, and for many years to come.
Annie Howeth is a senior at Whitefish High School.