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The Antelope

Young musicians take center stage at music department event

Former visiting instructor, Connie Moon, tunes her violin with her group of high school musicians during the Orchestra Festival. Photo provided by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

The music department helped young musicians come close to mastering their instruments last Thursday. The Fine Arts Building hosted 65 high school students from across the state for a day of orchestra performance and one-on-one specialized sessions.

Allison Gaines, Ron Crocker chair of Orchestra, said that this helps level the playing field for Nebraska high schoolers. 

“I moved here from Chicago, and it’s a lot easier for a kid in a big city like that or even a big population area to find a teacher who’s good on their instrument- violin, viola, cello, bass, whatever. But it’s harder out,” Gaines said. 

Every year, the UNK Music Department sends invitations to high schools. Then the responding instructors are sent music to pass on to students. The students will learn over the course of the full-day festival before coming together as an orchestra and performing the piece to the student body and surrounding community.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., students got to break out into their own specific groups based on the instrument they play. They learned the pieces of music with professors who specialize in their instrument here on campus. At the end of the day, the students came together to perform what they learned.

This year, the students played “Finale” from Serenade for Strings Op. 48 by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto no. 5” and Richard Meyer’s “Figs Frolic”.

This festival allows students to not only delve into the inner workings of their instruments that they may not be able to get from their teachers back home and in school, but also do so with peers who play the same instrument as them. On top of the peer connections and personal education on their instruments, students who show aptitude with their instrument are encouraged to join the Kearney Symphony, and may even be offered scholarships to attend here.

“I feel like overall the most important thing is that the kids enjoy it so they come back and let’s be honest, maybe they come here when they go to college,” Gaines said. 

With the music department growing more and more with a higher number of incoming freshmen this year than last according to Gaines, it is no secret that some of these new students have attended a few of these camps prior to attending UNK. 

Students who attend this festival also get to see what it is like on campus. For each student there is a $20 fee for meals at the Graze. The high school students are able to get a mini tour of the campus and experience campus for what it is. 

“Ours isn’t nearly as big as the band one or the choir one, but there’s so many more band and choir programs in the state and there’s not a lot of orchestra programs. So we’re small but mighty,” Gaines said.

Now that the festival is reaching out toward their pre-COVID numbers of attendance, Gaines and the other instructors involved with the Orchestra Festival are hopeful for even more growth in this event come next year.

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KOLTON MATUREY, Managing Editor
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