While Pittsburgh may not immediately leap to mind when contemplating significant chamber music destinations, for the members of this year’s Chiles High School orchestra, it’s a mecca. Despite its gritty, industrial stereotype, Pittsburgh has a vibrant music community and is the location for the 2017 National Orchestra Festival set for March 2-4.
As the result of an application and audition process, the Chiles Chamber Orchestra has been invited to perform and compete at the festival. These emerging musicians are looking forward to giving the rest of country a taste of what Tallahassee arts education programs have to offer.
Last year, nearly two dozen school orchestras from around the nation participated in the festival held in Tampa, including programs from states as far flung as California, Colorado, New York and Washington. This is a repeat appearance for Chiles. Its orchestra attended the festival in 2009 and again in 2014, and Chris Miller, the Chiles orchestra director, feels confident that this year’s group will represent our community well.
“The reason we’re going this year is because I think this is a particularly capable group,” Miller said. “It’s entirely possible that they can go there and play to the best of their ability and that will probably stack up pretty impressively.”
“We went to Nationals my freshman year and we got third place,” said 12thgrader David LaBarre, a violinist in the orchestra. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking because I want to do just as well if not better than that.”
The scale and quality of the programs represented can add extra pressure. “Most of the schools that compete are really huge private schools that require a lot of money to even be able to go there,” explained David. “Some of those orchestras have over 150 people. For us to place there would be huge.”
With only 36 musicians representing Chiles at Nationals this year, there’s an enormous amount of preparation going into polishing the performances, which helps these students advance in their musical technique and expression.
Many students, like ninth-grader Jovy Osagie, are thrilled by the idea of hard work and countless hours of practice.
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