The 6th Grade String Ensemble, and 7th & 8th Grade String Orchestra, took part in the CMEA Large Ensemble Festival in El Cerrito on Saturday April 2nd. The 6th graders played really well despite it being their first time participating in a festival, and received encouraging feedback from the adjudicators. They coped extremely well with playing in such a large auditorium, under pressure! The 7th & 8th graders performed well and were rated "Excellent" by the adjudicators. I was proud of their professionalism and responsiveness.
White Hill students had the privilege to be involved in the Cypress Quartet's Call and Response project once again this year. Cecily, Tom, Ethan and Jennifer visited the school and played selections of Beethoven's first and last string quartets. The students examined how his compositions changed during the course of his life, and in response to his personal experiences. Two memorable moments included the slow movement from his first string quartet, inspired by the tomb scene from Romeo and Juliet, and the final movement from his last quartet, "The Difficult Decision". Members of the quartet led a discussion with the students.and it was an amazing experience to be so close to such amazing musicians!
The following week, the students were invited to hear the complete performance of both Beethoven quartets, along with a new commission by composer Dan Coleman, at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, which was a very special evening. The Cypress Quartet plays with a level of musicality, communication and sensitivity which was inspirational to the students and all audience members from around the Bay Area. The new composition by Dan Coleman was interesting and a strong contrast with Beethoven. Before the concert, he talked about his composing process and led a question-and-answer session with audience members.
The project was bittersweet, however, as the quartet has decided, after twenty fulfilling years of playing, that this is their last year together. We are so lucky to have been involved with Call and Response for the past two years. It's been such an amazing opportunity for us and we wish Cecily, Tom, Ethan and Jennifer all good wishes for the future!