A concert-less orchestra continues playing

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Credit: Lauren Medeiros

The Wayland High School Orchestra performs a recording of their December concert for Winter Week. “I like that I didn’t get the stress of performing live,” sophomore Amelie Martin said. “It was nice that we could still have a concert despite the pandemic.”

Although this school year has been one of a kind, the annual WHS Winter Week was still able to take place. Due to COVID-19, all Winter Week performances and activities were done online. On Friday, February 5. the Wayland High School Orchestra shared their recorded performance from their December Concert.

For sophomore performer Amelie Martin and the orchestra, it took about an hour to complete the recording. Martin is a violinist and has been playing for 11 years. During Martin’s freshman year, she participated in Senior Districts. Martin practices the violin every day for about three hours and outside of school, she takes private lessons.

“Sometimes [practicing the violin] can be kind of like a chore, but overall I enjoy it,” Martin said.

Sophomore Bryn Leonard is a violinist who has been playing for 11 years. Leonard wasn’t able to participate in the concert because she had to get tested for COVID-19 and the test results didn’t come back in time for the recording.

“Orchestra class is still great as always due to Ms. Memoli’s dedication to making it as fun as possible, even if half of us are remote at any given class,” Leonard said.

COVID-19 has also changed the structure of the class. The orchestra could only rehearse together on Wednesdays. On the regular school days, the cohorts would rehearse separately.

“Something that was hard [about rehearsing in different cohorts] was that the piece had solos in it,” Martin said. “So if one person [from the other cohort] was playing a solo, they couldn’t be playing it with the other cohort, so someone would have to cover for them.”

During orchestra classes in person, the students would have to play six feet apart and the students at home would follow along over Zoom.

“The experience has taught us as a group to listen and follow each other better, which has improved our playing,” Leonard said.

For orchestra director Susan Memoli, concert adjustments with COVID-19 restrictions went a lot smoother than she expected.

“Orchestra has been very lucky,” Memoli said. “Unlike band and chorus, strings did not have the issues of mitigating aerosols. Our adaptations are more around distancing.”

The orchestra performed one piece called “The Corelli Christmas Concerto” written by Arcangelo Corelli, an Italian violinist and composer. Martin enjoyed playing this piece.

“This piece reminds me of Christmas and the holidays,” Martin said. “During these harsh COVID-19 times, [this piece] reminds me of bringing people together and making music.”

The Corelli Christmas Concerto is a piece written for string instruments. In the piece, there are movements for different sections and solos.

“[My favorite movement of Corelli Christmas Concerto] was the first one because it was the tune that everyone knows,” said Martin.

Martin prefers to perform in person but was happy they were able to share the hard work they put into orchestra.

“It is kind of nice because you still get the experience of having a concert,” Martin said.

Performing on Zoom was a learning experience for many of the orchestra members.

“I miss a large crowd and the excitement of the live performance,” Memoli said. “That being said, I feel incredibly fortunate to work with the musicians at WHS and connect through our common language of music in whatever format works.”