Highland Orchestra: An Art In The Dark?

Sophie Bauer

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They might not be distant, but rarely are they this familiar. Laughing behind the stage, joking, and working together with equal respect for every aspect of production, the Highland musical offers a rare glimpse into how two of Highland’s arts work together to create something wonderful.

For months this fall, Highland theatre joined forces with Highland band and orchestra for the annual fall musical.

The musical is put on by actors and musicians who care deeply about their work, and as such its only natural that both groups face pressure. Lily Weeks, cellist and Highland senior, has performed in the school musical for four years, and knows the feeling well.

“It’s always a lot of work,” Says Weeks, “So it’s always kind of a relief, but it is a little bit bittersweet.”

Her sentiments were echoed by junior violinist Dominik Baird.

“Relief, because, it was a lot of pressure for all that music to be done so quickly and suddenly.” Said Baird. This year’s production,  Fiddler on the Roof, was her first Highland musical.

But with the musical ending and both sides going their separate ways, it seemed in some classes that actors were getting congratulated at higher rates than musicians. Thus,  a question was raised. How much recognition did the orchestra really get for it?

Highland has lots of opportunities to promote it’s art, from posters in the stairwell to announcements over the PA, all the way to near-daily HTVS broadcasts. But more often than not, that time is devoted to announcements about sports.

And while theater and dance do get some airtime and announcement time, it often leaves orchestra and band in the dark.

“Anything with music,” Points out Baird, “They hide. I think that’s not good. They need to show it off a lot more, because it’s music, and we’re learning.”

Weeks, however, disagrees. When it comes to the musical, Weeks points out that people don’t usually come to high school musicals for the music.

“Because we’re not the main act, we’re not supposed to be noticed. If we’re noticed that means we probably did something wrong.” Says Weeks.

This statement may be somewhat accurate — certainly, mistakes made in the music do tend to be more noticeable than a perfectly performed score — but according to Baird, it doesn’t take into account that the orchestra works just as hard, if not harder, to do their part right — especially considering the pressure put on orchestra not to mess up.

“I feel like the orchestra should get more recognition,” Says Baird, “Because not only do the actors have to learn so much, so quickly, but so does the orchestra, and the band.”

Music, too, can be hard to pull off, when the amount of mental processes required to do it are taken into account.

Musicians have to read notes, interpret them, and then physically make it happen. Depending on the difficulty of the score, it can be extremely challenging to ace a piece of music, and that’s ignoring completely issues like tuning and synchronizing with other musicians.

Highland’s student body is extremely talented, and has some extremely talented musicians, who deserve more credit than they’re getting for the time and effort that they put into their work. They need support from their fellow Rams, and a great way to do that is to spread the word and attend upcoming concerts.

Orchestra’s winter concert, which opens on December 13th and features both Christmas songs and traditional classical pieces, is a good place to start.

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Highland Orchestra: An Art In The Dark?