Cleveland Youth Orchestra invites Wooster High School to a concert

WOOSTER — Music echoed through the winding hallways of Wooster High School as the symphony band practiced on a Thursday afternoon. Even though the band recently performed a gig, band manager Craig French is hoping to make some last minute changes to some of their songs before their big performance at the end of the month.

Every time the band played a song, French would make suggestions like “play that part more” or “watch me for that entry” and his students would nod and score their music as they went.

After waiting for this performance for a year, French and his students know they have only one chance to make an impression.

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Since the beginning of the school year, the Wooster Symphonic Band has been preparing for its performance with the Cleveland Youth Orchestra as part of the Northeast Ohio Band Invitational on January 30 at the Severance Music Center in Cleveland. The show opens with its first band at 2 p.m., the Wooster band is scheduled to perform around 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased online at the Cleveland Orchestra website.

What is performance and how Wooster became part of it

The Northeast Ohio Band Invitational is an annual performance sponsored by the Cleveland Institute of Music where members of the Cleveland Youth Orchestra can perform, and bands from local middle and high schools are invited to join. This year’s performers include the Kent State University Wind Ensemble and four high schools, including Wooster High School.

Being invited to the concert is something that is mostly based on your program’s notoriety and performance, French says, as there is no formal application or audition process.

“There’s no real magic formula to getting invited other than a reputation for your program and letting people know you’d like to attend,” French said.

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Last year, French shared his interest and received an invitation for the symphony band to perform, later sharing the news with his students over the summer at band camp. Once the school year began, French and his students got to work choosing and practicing their songs.

The songs the band will perform include upbeat, faster-paced songs like a British march by Gustav Holst and a drum-heavy, machine-like song called “Industrial Loops,” and slower, emotional pieces like Ava Maria. and a play about the Korean War titled “Inchon”.

Craig French, the band principal at Wooster High School, leads the symphony band class as they rehearse several songs they plan to perform at a concert at Severance Hall.  French said the band had been preparing for the gig for months and were very excited for the performance.

To help students prepare, French said they would have class rehearsal time to play together as a group and weekly rehearsals outside of class hours to work on more specific areas of the songs. Guest conductors such as retired College of Wooster band director Nancy Ditmer were brought in to help work with the band and offer critiques as they got closer to performance.

“I explained it was an earlier performance than we were used to and said, ‘We can’t slow down here, guys,'” French said. “…They’re really disciplined and they care. They care enough to take him home and practice.

The meaning behind the performance

Since only a few schools are invited each year, French said his students were very happy to be chosen this year.

“It’s just such a big honor for a high school band,” said Jhon Fajardo, a senior at Wooster High School and a pied piper in the band. “This is the greatest honor we can get. So the fact that we were chosen for this is really special.

Wooster High School senior Jhon Fajardo plays his flute in the symphony orchestra class as the class rehearses some songs for an upcoming concert at Severance Hall.  Farjardo said he had been playing the flute since fourth grade and was very excited for their upcoming performance.

French said he looks forward to the performance not only to show off all of his students’ work, but also to give them the experience of performing in a unique space such as Severance Hall.

“When they get to play that last chord,” French said. “And it rings and rings and rings in the hall, I hope it’s a moment they will always remember.”

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How it will work and how to get there

The Cleveland Institute of Music is hosting the event with the Cleveland Orchestra, at the Severance Music Center in Cleveland.

Tickets, which cost $10 per person, can be purchased in advance on the Cleveland Orchestra website, where guest requirements are also listed.

The Wooster Symphony Group performs at the Performing Arts Center at Wooster High School.

Among the requirements listed on the website are proof of vaccination, including booster, or proof of a negative COVID test before entering the performance venue. Face masks will also be required for anyone attending a show and those over 18 must have valid photo ID.

Postings on the website recommend customers arrive early, and prepaid parking can also be purchased online.

Contact Rachel Karas at [email protected]

On Twitter: @RachelKaras3

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