The fall performance season was enriched by another year of the Jenison High School Chamber Orchestra partnership with the Grand Valley State University Symphony Orchestra.
In 2008 Jenison was the first high school orchestra asked to do a side by side concert with Grand Valley and they met up again on the stage of the JCA at the end of October this year. The entire 70 member GVSU Symphony Orchestra was represented, including all woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The Jenison Chamber Orchestra is an elite musical ensemble made up of the top violin, viola, cello and bass players at Jenison High School. Students are in 10th – 12th grade and perform a rigorous audition in the spring to be accepted into the ensemble. Though the size of the group varies it’s roughly 25 students each year.
Director Dan Scott says, “Jenison students rehearsed in class [while also preparing our fall concert and our performance for the Betty Ford Breast Cancer Awareness Event], but they also had one 90 minute rehearsal with the GVSU Symphony on the day of the concert.”
The concert opened with the brass players from GVSU performing Fanfare from ‘La Peri’ by Paul Dukas from the balcony. Included in the GVSU part of the program will also be Mars from ‘The Planets’ by Gustav Holst followed by the Jenison Chamber Orchestra performing by themselves. The GVSU Symphony performed three works by themselves before everyone joined together to perform Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky.
Henry Duitman, GVSU Director of Orchestras explains how the side by side aspect works: “For the Mussorgsky piece, the GVSU Strings will sit “side by side” with the Jenison High School Chamber Orchestra strings. This gives younger students a chance to learn from older students and gives the entire string section the full sound that this mighty work requires. It is a lot of fun for the students as well. Our students love to perform with the high school students and were especially looking forward to performing in the wonderful new Jenison Center for the Arts.”
Professor Duitman knows that music education is about more than performances and reading music. “This is just one more way of exposing students, parents, and the community to the exciting world of classical music, an important part of any liberal arts education.”
Mr Scott adds that the experience of playing alongside college students has a deep value as well. “This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about continuing to play their instruments in college. Our students worked with students who are still playing in college while experiencing the musical level and expectations of a college ensemble. As usual, our students were excellent musicians and people throughout the experience.”