Standing on stage at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts can be enthralling but also intimidating, even when you have a full orchestra with you. Now, imagine being a high school student, performing a solo in front of a packed house.
“As a musician, I am learning to be more dramatic through my body expression,” says Olympia High School senior Andrew Huang. “This is a skill needed for the solo since the orchestra and I need to be coordinated well. I think in the long run, this solo experience helps me to not be as nervous, so instead I can thoroughly enjoy the music.”
Huang will be performing a violin solo with Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) during the November 6 concert. “The Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is a fantastic piece,” says Huang about his solo. “It is full of drama and contrasting excerpts. Although there are some technically difficult parts, the beauty of the piece is never diminished.”
“The piece has plenty of fireworks and Andrew is lighting the fuse,” adds Music Director and Conservatory Orchestra Conductor John Welsh.
“Many wonderful high school musicians will be graduating this year,” says Welsh. Therefore, he has selected music that will highlight as many students as possible.
French horn musician Henry Nordhorn will also be a soloist at the November 6 SOGO concert. “The Weber Concertino for Horn is every bit the same type of work that the Saint-Saëns is, but of course for Horn. Henry is providing us with the spectacular,” says Welsh.
“The piece that I am playing can be broken into three movements with distinctly different styles. It starts out with a very slow yet dramatic introduction then moves into the second movement, a type of theme and variation. The theme starts out as a very melodic, beautiful dance and slowly gets more flashy and complicated throughout the variations. The third movement is definitely a different kind of dance, featuring a type of call and response between the horn and the orchestra. It has a very fun and light feeling of song and dance throughout the entire piece, but is punctuated by moments of both seriousness and exclamation. It is one of the most intense solos that I have ever worked on, although I think that it is my favorite as well,” says Nordhorn who is in his seventh season with SOGO.
“This piece pushed me beyond what I had ever done in a piece before,” continues Nordhorn. “I didn’t even know that my instrument could physically go as high as it needs to in this piece, or that I could play multiple notes at the same time on it. It has been an eye-opening experience.”
Both Huang and Nordhorn have invested a considerable amount of practice time to perfect their solo pieces. “Practicing for a solo teaches patience, and perseverance, and dedication. These are values that don’t just impact musicianship, but your whole persona and your mindset,” adds Nordhorn, also a senior at Olympia High School.
Along with Huang and Nordhorn, two Conservatory Orchestra musicians will also be performing solos with the Academy Orchestra. “Caddie Derby, violinist and Emma Lindemeier, flutist will be performing the first movement of Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto with the assistance of local harpsichord specialist, Ramona Allen,” says Welsh.
Both SOGO musicians state that being a part of the orchestra is a joy. “SOGO is an orchestra made up of musicians who put in extra effort to play more music, because they love the music so much. It’s a unique opportunity to play amazing music; pieces I knew before and new ones I come to enjoy a lot,” says Huang.
“What really set me on joining SOGO was when I decided to go to one of the concerts to fill out my school’s concert report. After the concert I remember being amazed, excited, and wanting to join. It was very much a spontaneous decision, and it’s one I remember very well,” summarizes Huang. He doesn’t plan to pursue a career in music but music will “be a huge part of my life.”
“Yes, the work will be hard, but if you are serious about music then SOGO is well worth the time that you put into it,” says Nordhorn who plans to study music in college to become a professional horn player and band director.
Guest conductor Victoria Gau will be joining the Conservatory Orchestra during the November 6 concert. Maestra Gau lives in Washington D.C. and is the conductor and artistic director of the Capital City Symphony.
The fall concert is slated for November 6 at The Washington Center. Tickets for the 4:00 p.m. concert can be purchased via olytix.org. SOGO appreciates the concert sponsorship of Olympic Dermatology and Laser Clinic and Washington State Arts Commission.