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By Alexis Piscatello
There are plenty of strings attached when you are a principal chair in an orchestra. Students are learning this in The Music and Arts Center for Cultural Learning’s Youth Orchestra this fall.
For the first time, Sept. 26, the orchestra conducted auditions for the various orchestral chairs, with principal chair being the most advanced. In orchestras, like football and other team sports, each person is given a position that best suits their skill level. These positions are called chairs.
Orchestra director Victor Collins said he decided to have auditions, “because I wanted the students to experience the same audition process that professional orchestra players go through.” In professional orchestras, principal chair musicians have specific responsibilities for their group such as coordinating the timing for the strings’ bows and the way the notes should be played. The auditions allow the conductor to see who best fits each chair.
Asked why the auditions are helpful to the students Collins said, “While preparing to meet the standards [required by the audition], students’ practice time increases and they begin to focus more on playing technique, good sound, accuracy in rhythms and intonation, which are all key elements of a good musician.”
Morgen Chambers, a second section violinist, agrees that the auditions are helpful, “because they picked more difficult pieces or scales to play. They gave us a certain time in which to prepare the piece, which I will definitely run into in an advanced orchestra, and they gave us a faster speed to play it in, which will be a barrier for me in future pieces.”
Lois Piscatello received the chair position of principal viola.
“Even though I was nervous going into the audition, I was excited to learn what it takes to be prepared for future auditions with professional orchestras,” she said.
Besides experience, the orchestra auditions create opportunity for responsibility and encourage teamwork.
“Having the auditions automatically makes the orchestra more professional," said Rachael Piscatello, principal second violinist. "It will promote teamwork and, therefore, a better end product.”
Rachael is one of the few student leaders who have extra responsibility.
“Being principal chair is a great opportunity to practice leadership skills as well as responsibility,” she said, “and I hope I help my section to grow in their music skills and unity as an orchestra.”
Most importantly, the MACCL Youth Orchestra auditions fulfilled the non-profit organization’s goal.
“Orchestra auditions fit the goal of MACCL because our goal is to encourage and challenge our students to do their best and pursue excellence in all that they do, whether it is music, art, life, spiritual growth or academics,” Collins said.
MACCL Youth Orchestra has opened for the Louisville Orchestra and has performed at nursing homes, Towne Mall and the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center.
This season, the musicians will accompany the ECTC Choristers and The Allegro Dance Theatre’s school tour “The Nutcracker."
MACCL Youth Orchestra always is seeking young musicians with a passion for their instruments. For more information, visit www.maccl.com or call 234-0007.
Alexis Piscatello is a senior who is home schooled.