Jefferson musicians perform at Senior Regional Orchestra


Fifteen Jefferson students played in the Northern Virginia Senior Regional Orchestra (SRO), which took place on Nov. 7-9. Photo courtesy of Samantha Chu.

Ellen Kan, Managing Editor

On Nov. 9, approximately 115 students from local high schools gathered to perform at the Northern Virginia Senior Regional Orchestra (SRO). After nearly 15 hours of rehearsal in the span of three days, the orchestra, which included 15 Jefferson students, performed at Hayfield Secondary School.

The concert repertoire was Symphonie Fantastique, a five-movement piece composed by Hector Berlioz. According to sophomore Aaron Geldert, who was one of two tenor trombones chosen for the orchestra, the challenging music made the experience a valuable and worthwhile one.

“It feels good to have practiced and performed a full symphony with a very skilled ensemble,” Geldert said. “This is a group that only exists for a couple days in the year, and there aren’t many other opportunities to play with an orchestra this good.”

Auditions for SRO were held on Sept. 30 at Jefferson for wind, brass and percussion and at Stuart High School for strings and harp. A total of 14 students from Jefferson, along with four alternates, were accepted into the orchestra across the musical sections. Audition requirements included running through major, minor and chromatic scales, playing excerpts of prepared pieces and sightreading music.

The audition process varied depending on the instrument. Some of Jefferson’s band students had a more difficult audition because there were fewer spots available for wind, brass and percussion compared to strings.

Senior Bryan Higgins, who also performed with SRO last year, was required to demonstrate his skills with the snare drum, xylophone, and timpani when he auditioned. Higgins placed second chair out of the five percussionists and played timpani at the concert.

“I have become friends with a number of percussionists from other schools in the area over the last four years, and events such as SRO allow me to hang out and play music with them,” Higgins said. “SRO was definitely one of the highlights of my year.”

All musicians who play at SRO also qualify for the prestigious All-Virginia Band and Orchestra, for which auditions will be held on Feb. 22 at James Madison University. The event itself will be held in Blacksburg in April.

Junior Anna Tsutsui, who was the second chair of the first violin section at SRO, has participated in SRO for three consecutive years. She is looking forward to continuing her streak on the state level as well by qualifying for the All-Virginia Band and Orchestra for the third year.

“The best part of SRO was seeing the transformation that occurs from the first downbeat to the final cut-off in the performance. A couple of days aren’t a lot of time to practice and polish a concert program to the point where it is ready for performance,” Tsutsui said. “I’m excited for the state audition because the requirements have changed, so it will be interesting to see how the results will turn out.”