Students perform at the district orchestra ‘Solo and Ensemble’ festival


Illustration by Sabrina Roach, ‘25.

From fourth to 12th grade, orchestra students have an opportunity to perform during the district-wide spring Solo and Ensemble festival. Like the name suggests, students perform a piece either alone (solo) or with a fellow group of musicians (ensemble). These performances are the culmination of months of practice.

“The festival is a chance for students to cultivate individual musicianship,” Clark Sheldon, the orchestra teacher, said. “They decide on the music, rehearse together, and then they come in and play individually for a judge to have feedback.”

This competition is a unique opportunity for students to express themselves individually.

“Our classes are a kind of large group ensemble,” Sheldon said. “During Solo and Ensemble, students can do a lot of the things that happen as a large group in our normal classes on a smaller scale”

Solo and Ensemble also allows for students to receive vital feedback from an unknown judge, which is an opportunity not available in the classroom.

“Something that’s really important is the ability to perform for somebody you don’t know,” Adrian Wu, a junior, said. “Mr. Sheldon has obviously given us all good feedback, but we know him as a person and we’re more comfortable playing. A complete stranger whose tendencies we don’t know will affect us mentally, and overcoming that is really important to be a good performer.”

Students who chose to play ensembles have the opportunity to develop strong friendships.

“It was a good way for us to connect with each other and to play music that we were all on the same page of.” Dhruv Patari, a freshman, said.