WORTHINGTON — When the 200-plus sixth- through 12th-grade string musicians of ISD 518 gather in the Worthington High School gymnasium for their fall concert at 7 p.m. Monday, two patriotic songs will, fittingly, be on the program.
“We’ll celebrate our veterans with ‘Freedom Finale’ in a mass performance by all of our student musicians,” said Zac Paulsen, a Worthington Middle School orchestra instructor.
“That will make for an inspiring concert finale.”
And Worthington High School orchestra director Melanie Loy will lead her combined 26-member Varsity String ensemble and 56-member WHS Orchestra in “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the top of the show.
In between those two selections lie several other musical treasures for orchestra-loving attendees.
Paulsen’s 64 sixth-graders are set to share an arrangement of Jacques Offenbach’s “Can Can,” plus Soon-Hee Newbold’s “The Legend of Dark Mountain.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better sixth-grade group with that large a class,” praised Paulsen.
“These sixth graders are above average.”
The 41 seventh-graders will perform a Douglas Wagner arrangement of the wistful Scottish folk tune “O Waly Waly,” as well as “Hunter’s Moon” by Doug Spata.
“There’s a magical transformation that seems to occur between sixth and seventh grade,” observed Paulsen, who is now in his fourth year of teaching in ISD 518.
“Their fine motor skills seem to improve over the summer, and the seventh-graders are starting to play with a big, full tone as they are given more complex music.”
The poignant “Scarborough Fair,” arranged by Brian Balmages, begins the program portion for 32 eighth-grade musicians.
“That’s such a beautiful piece,” said Paulsen. “And their second number is so different — a dissonant one with tons of accidentals and tempo changes called “Arachnid’s Lair,” but it’s really exciting and they’re tackling it with enthusiasm.”
Paulsen also mentioned that his seventh and eighth graders are working on developing musicality in their playing, partly by more closely watching their conductor for tempo and dynamic change cues.
At the high school level, Loy’s Varsity Strings will present “Basse Danse” from the Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock, and they’ll swing to “Rock Bottom Boogie” by composer Robert Longfield.
“Jig” from Gustav Holst’s St. Paul Suite, “The Storm Chasers” by Mark Lortz and an arrangement of “A Whole New World” from the musical “Aladdin” will round out the WHS Orchestra’s program section.
In addition, the Augustana String Quartet directed by Dr. Peter Folliard of Augustana University of Sioux Falls, S.D., will share three pieces as the evening’s special guests.
“They’re excited to join us,” said Loy, “and we’re so pleased to be sharing this first orchestral concert of the year with the public on Veterans Day evening.”
The ISD 518 fall orchestra festival concert takes place at 7 p.m. in the Worthington High School gymnasium at 1211 Clary St., Worthington. There is an admission fee, and ISD 518 activity passes will be honored.