UAHS orchestra groups perform in Honolulu

By Ally Melnik, ’18

One hundred orchestra students performed at Pearl Harbor, representing Ohio in the National Festival of States in Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 15-21.

A day after their arrival, students ventured to the University of Hawaii for a music clinic. There the String orchestra and the combined Concert and Symphony orchestras played their pieces for Joseph Stepec, the Director of Orchestral Activities. UA orchestra conductor Ed Zunic said that attending the clinic was not part of the original plan.

“We looked at the schedule and we knew that we could fit something else in there. We have a former student who attends the University of Hawaii, and so she was actually the one who suggested [the clinic],” Zunic said.

Junior Maggie Morris said she found the clinic to be entertaining.

“I’ve always enjoyed clinics,” Morris said. “I think that they’re fun and informational. This clinic was a lot of fun. [Joseph Stepec] was a little quirky, but eccentric conductors are always fun. In general, I thought that this clinic was a fun addition to our trip and a good way to start it off.”

On Feb. 17, the orchestras gave their first performance at Pearl Harbor in front of the famous “Mighty Mo” ship. This was the initial reason why the orchestras had been invited to perform. The group was given the honor of performing in front of active and retired military, as well as normal attendees of the memorial for the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

The two orchestras played in their own groups before coming together and playing as one large group to play the song “A Festival Rondo,” which is a multi-level song with different parts for the two orchestras.

Sophomore Clayton Rogers said he was honored to perform at Pearl Harbor.

“It was a very unique experience because it’s something normal high schoolers would not be able to do,” Rogers said.

The group’s second performance was on Feb. 19 in the Windward Mall, which was slightly different—it was open to the public. The orchestras played the same songs from the Pearl Harbor performance, but instead for the National Festival of States, which is an annual concert series.

Junior Gaven Zou said he found the Windward Mall performance to be unique for several reasons.

“It was an incredible experience with a completely different environment, temperature and audience wise,” Zou said. “[The orchestras] had difficulty staying together; however, we adapted to our environments and became acclimated to the scene.”

Besides the two performances and the clinic, the students had time to enjoy several other activities. Many hours were spent hiking and summiting volcanic craters, relaxing on the beach and participating in traditional Hawaiian luaus. Although the students might have dreaded waking up at 6 a.m. every morning or walking 15 minutes to go to different breakfast locations, being able to enjoy the Hawaiian sun while playing the songs they’ve been practicing since November certainly made for an unforgettable experience.

“When we travel, we try to pick something that would be completely unique,” Zunic said. “Outside the Chicago trip we do every other year with middle school students, every trip we’ve taken since then has been different… You can go to Hawaii and you can visit Pearl Harbor… but you wouldn’t have the opportunity to perform at the two venues.”