By Cassie Lowery

It’s 7:20 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and junior Grace Tucker is already five minutes into her first class of the day, chamber orchestra. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Tucker and 13 other students rehearse from 7:15 until 7:55 for the most advanced orchestra group at the high school.

The group takes only those who are the highest chair (or rank) in the next highest orchestra, symphony. With just over two-dozen members, chamber orchestra is less than half the size of symphony. Tucker said this allows the group to perform more challenging pieces, such as Britten’s Simple Symphony, as well as original works that are arranged specifically for smaller orchestras.

According to Tucker, one of the most challenging aspects of the group is the amount of work required out of school.

“We have to know and practice our music outside of rehearsal since we have such limited time together,” she said.

Despite the challenges the group presents, Tucker is excited about her second year in chamber orchestra.

“I really enjoy the original chamber pieces because they aren’t arranged,” Tucker said. “The music is harder, but it’s also really beautiful and fun to play an original work.”

The high school has four different orchestras in order to accommodate a wide range of skill levels. In addition to chamber and symphony there are also string and concert orchestras.

“String orchestra requires no audition,” said Carminia Spencer, senior third-year chamber and symphony member.

“Concert orchestra requires an audition and serves as an intermediate orchestra before symphony for those who plan on auditioning,” she said. “Then symphony orchestra requires an audition, and you have to have been a member of concert before.”

All of the orchestras give students an opportunity to perform as well as to develop a deep understanding of music. The orchestras also have performances in addition to their three-to-four concerts held at the high school. (The next is set for March 13.) This year Spencer and Tucker were both involved in a music festival, which was held at Bowling Green University. They’ve also done several performances at different churches in the area as well as a Christmas concert at a local hospital.

One of the highlights for both girls was last year’s symphony orchestra trip to Toronto for a competition. In addition to winning several awards, they also got to explore the city.

“We spent four days there and went to lots of great places, performed on a beautiful stage and met cool musicians from different places,” Spencer said.

Tucker also called the trip one of her most memorable experiences in orchestra.

“The trip was a great bonding experience and we have a lot of inside jokes and fond memories that we still talk about,” Tucker said.

Both Tucker and Spencer have found orchestra to be full of enriching experiences and enjoy all the fun they have with the other students they’ve met through the class.

“Orchestra is a class that isn’t stressful and is actually really fun,” Tucker said. “I have great relationships with everyone in symphony and we’re able to have a good time while we learn about music styles and practice our pieces for contests or concerts.”

Spencer has also enjoyed her four years in the program.

“We play some really fun music. Everyone in orchestra is easy to get along with,” Spencer said. “We manage to have a good time with each other regardless of the fact that we have to wake up way too early in the morning.”