Friday, May 15, 2009

Beautiful Music!

I don't know how she does it...well, maybe I do! Shauna Smith is the director of the American Fork Jr. High and High School orchestras. That last word was plural because between the two schools she directs six groups. I know how she does it because she had the same orchestra teacher that I did growing up in Mesa, Arizona. What a coincidence that my daughter and son's director went to Westwood High School and had William Englesman inspire her the same way I did! Mr. Englesman taught me from 7th grade at Kino Jr. all the way through high school. He fostered in me a love for classical music and the orchestral sounds that still thrill my soul to this day. Shauna was about five years behind me, and much more talented than I (and much more dedicated I am sure) and has made music her life's work along with raising a big, happy family of musical, swimming kids! I suppose it's another coincidence that my husband would coach most of her children in the sport and take her daughter Candace to Olympic Trials last summer.

Last night was the final concert of the year and Rachel's final school concert. It began with the beginners, AF Jr.'s youngest. I was amazed at their progress this year and smiled at how good they have become. Next came Richard's group, the intermediates. They were just great and played 4 songs that were complex and wowed me! I am proud of Richard and his progress. He has many trials and struggles to deal with in his life and he has come a long way on his viola. Thanks to Shauna and to his private lesson teacher Diane Peterson who lovingly helps him along.
Mrs. Smith warned us that the Advanced Orchestra would be fantastic and she was right! I sat there with my mouth open listening to a group of 8th & 9th graders that sounded as good if not better than many high school orchestras I have heard. She has a group of talented kids coming up for the high school groups. They are going to be unbelievably good! Finally came the Concert, Symphonic, & Chamber Orchestras along with the Wind Symphony and Percussion. They treated us to five pieces, everything from Rimsky-Korsakov to Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings themes.

I don't want to belabor a point, but I will! I sat there with tears in my eyes as I listened to what I might deem as the best high school orchestra I have ever heard. The combined talents of these young people and Mrs. Smith created a sound that moved me deeply. If there is ever any talk of cutting the music program in our district I will be the first to throw myself in front of that train!

I am so proud of Rachel. She chose an instrument that is hard to play and hard to haul around. I smile at the memories I have of her little 7th grade self trudging off to school with her rental cello on wheels! When when she acquired her own instrument she treated it as if it were made of gold. Orchestra has taken her to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to play for Ben Franklin's 200th birthday celebration, and to New York City to play at Lincoln Center. I will miss the sounds of her practicing wafting from our upstairs as she goes off to college this fall. I sat and smiled, and cried as I watched her high school music experience end, grateful to her dedicated teacher for giving her this life-changing gift. Thanks Mrs. Smith!

Taken during the break between Jr. High and High School concerts.
I didn't get a shot of Richard on stage because he was hidden behind the cello section! He and Dee stuck it out for the whole 2 hours and loved Rachel's music at the end.

Rachel tuning up for her last school concert.

Mrs. Shauna Smith addresses the crowd.

The Senior class of 2009 stands to be recognized.

This is the AF Jr. High Intermediate orchestra (Richard's group) playing the theme from "The Incredibles". I posted this one because it was Richard's favorite.Most of these kids have only been playing for 2-3 years...fabulous!This is the High School Symphony playing "Procession of the Nobles" by Rimsky-Korsakov. It was their shortest song and longer ones don't exactly want to upload very quickly. Sarah, I am going to put the other songs on a video sharing website so you can hear them. "Lord of the Rings" was spectacular.


Sarah said...

Thanks Mom- let me know when/where I can watch! Love you!

Edwin & Tamara said...

Wow what fun

excellent music loved it

Lori said...

Oh this brought back memories. I was first chair, second violin my entire high school life. I loved the videos . . . they are really good.