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Jamestown’s Orchestra Students Compose Their Way to JMU

The+Jamestown+Orchestra+prepares+to+perform+for+District+Assessments+
The Jamestown Orchestra prepares to perform for District Assessments

The Jamestown Orchestra prepares to perform for District Assessments

Photo Courtesy of Mary Giacolone

Photo Courtesy of Mary Giacolone

The Jamestown Orchestra prepares to perform for District Assessments

Breanna Knotts, Student Life Editor

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On the weekend of May 20, about 20 orchestra students will pack up and head to James Madison University for an instructional three days of nothing but playing their strings and having fun.

“My friends and I look forward to this trip every year because of the exciting events and the time together,” freshman cellist Bernadette Williams said. “Throughout the weekend, a group of us become so close and form bonds like none others,”

In order to participate on the trip, students must retain at least a B average in the orchestra class and a C average in their remaining classes.

“Usually the students that attend this sort of activity are the same students who are more responsible and have higher grades,” orchestra teacher Mary Giacolone said. “I haven’t yet to deny a student the right to do because of grades, but there is always a first,”

Participants must pay $220 to go. But those students who previously attended the JMU camp and impressed the instructors may receive a scholarship for their commitment.

“I received a $100 scholarship to come back to JMU the next year because I received an award of ‘Most Improved’ from the Friday we first got there to the Sunday we performed,” freshman violinist Kayla Knotts said.

The Friday of the trip is the most critical for all musicians. “When we arrive, we audition for one out of five orchestras and are put in one that day,” freshman violinist Nadia Parras explained. “We practice with our specified orchestra. And with the five different groups, we create an excellent performance on Sunday night.”

Throughout the weekend, there are four hour practices three times each day to prepare for the final performance. “The practices are really rough because we only get a break for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Knotts said. Although the twelve hours a day can be tough, the students receive expert instruction given by experienced and motivated conductors.

With the first two days being exhausting, it all becomes worth it on Sunday night. “The Sunday performance is incredible to watch. The first time the students see the music is on Friday around noon,” Mrs. Giacolone explained. “It is amazing how they can learn so much music in a short period of time and put it together for an amazing performance.”  

During the weekend, the students obtain more than just better playing techniques. “Other than playing, we get to live the life of a college student for multiple days,” freshman violinist Heidi Turrubiates said. “We go to classes (rehearsals), sleep in dorms, and eat in the school cafeteria.” The students also make unforgettable friends as all the students share one mutual interest: music.

With the event right around the corner, the students have already began to get excited. The orchestra invites all students and their families to join them at JMU for their Sunday night, May 22 symphony performance.

“On Sunday, it all comes together and the performance is beautiful. The sound and melody we produce has an amazing voice and it deserves to be heard,” Turrubiates said. “We spend long hours working on the music but when it comes showtime, the hours are forgotten and we put on a great show.”  

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Jamestown’s Orchestra Students Compose Their Way to JMU