WORTHINGTON - It may feel like winter, but 200 ISD 518 orchestra students will share their first concert of the fall at 7 p.m. Monday in the Worthington High School gymnasium.


“It’s always exciting to get to this point in the year when we’re ready for the first concert,” said Melanie Loy, director of the WHS string ensembles.


“And it’s good to get this fall concert under our belts before the holidays hit full force.”


A new development for 2018-19 in the IDS 518 orchestra program is the presence of two high school-level ensembles rather than only one.


“We made the change in order to break down the size of the orchestra,” explained Loy, noting she would otherwise have a group of 80 students.


“With two groups instead of a single large one, rehearsals are more efficient, I can provide better quality instruction to my students and the space more easily accommodates everyone,” she listed.


“We were nearly maxed out in our room with 73 string students last year.”


Hence, the newly formed Varsity Strings ensemble consists of 23 players - all freshmen and sophomores. At Monday’s concert, they will perform three selections from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof:” “Tradition,” “Anatevka” and “If I Were a Rich Man.”


The 57-member WHS Orchestra will play an arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” a short piece called “Reverie” by James Corigliano and the patriotic-themed “Freedom Finale,” arranged by Michael Story.


“’Reverie’ and ‘Freedom Finale’ pair well because they are in contrasting keys - E minor and G major - and the students enjoy the chance to execute their vibrato and dynamic contrasts on the reflective ‘Reverie,’” noted Loy.


Three of director Zac Paulsen’s Worthington Middle School orchestras (sixth through eighth grade) will each share two numbers.


“I have 50 students in the sixth-grade orchestra - they’re an exciting class - and they’ll play ‘Gargoyles’ by Doug Spata and ‘Dragonhunter’ by Richard Meyer,” Paulsen said.


“Those are both intense, high-energy pieces that suit them well.”


Paulsen’s 36 seventh-graders have “Dramatic Essay” by Mark Williams and “Dark Dreams” by Sean O’Loughlin on the program.


“Those are both fun numbers, and they’ve been working on incorporating different key signatures and adapting to tempo changes,” Paulsen commented.


Finally, the 33 eighth-graders under Paulsen’s baton are set to play “Autumn Vows” by Susan Day, which Paulsen calls a “beautiful, lyrical piece that really lets the cellos shine,” and “Blue Rhythmico” by Kirt Mosier.


“’Blue Rhythmico’ is a fast-paced, very aggressive number that’s rhythmically challenging,” confirmed Paulsen.


“The students have definitely surprised me in a good way this year, with each grade level stepping up to the plate,” he added.


“These students want to sound good and be the best they can be, so it’s fun to be their teacher.”


Paulsen also conducts the fifth-grade orchestra students, while Loy is leading 82 fourth-grade beginners at Prairie Elementary; those string players will perform at December concerts (Dec. 12 for the fourth-grade strings and Dec. 17 for the fifth-graders).


To conclude Monday night’s concert, the WHS Orchestra has prepared two movements of Haydn’s Symphony No. 101, known as “The Clock Symphony.”


“Our orchestra students are so active, not only with music and additional fine arts events but also with sports, academics and other activities,” observed Loy.


“We look forward to combining with the sixth- through eighth-grade musicians on Monday for a wonderful evening of music.”


The WHS/WMS fall orchestra festival takes place at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHS gymnasium, 1211 Clary St., Worthington. There is an admission fee; ISD 518 student IDs and activity passes will be honored.