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Super night for strings: November string serenade is at 7 p.m. Monday

WORTHINGTON -- Whether you're a fan of Dvorak, Mozart, folk tunes or the Beatles, the fall concert of the Worthington Middle School (WMS) and Worthington High School (WHS) orchestras has a little something to suit everyone's personal musical taste.

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Worthington Middle School instructor Zac Paulsen conducts Friday during a practice with the seventh-grade orchestra. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Whether you’re a fan of Dvorak, Mozart, folk tunes or the Beatles, the fall concert of the Worthington Middle School (WMS) and Worthington High School (WHS) orchestras has a little something to suit everyone’s personal musical taste.

  At 7 p.m. Monday in the WHS gymnasium, 220 fifth- through 12th-grade ISD 518 string students will demonstrate the skills they’ve been practicing since September.

  “There’s a core group of kids that seem to really apply themselves to orchestra music, and they’re sounding strong,” assured Melanie Loy, director of the 63-member WHS ensemble.

  “I enjoy them a lot, and they work hard.”

  The concert will open with “The Star Spangled Banner,” played by Loy’s chamber orchestra.

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  “The chamber orchestra is comprised of the 33 high school students I instruct daily, while the other 30 string players alternate days as WHS concert choir singers,” explained Loy.

  “They’re a well-balanced group, and they’ll also perform the first movement, ‘Basse Danse,’ of Peter Warlock’s ‘Capriol Suite,’” she noted.

  Loy’s full WHS orchestra will offer interpretations of Antonin Dvorak’s “Three Slavonic Dances,” a fiddle tune titled “Mountain Chase” by Alan Lee Silva, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” arranged by Richard Stephan and an arrangement of Paul McCartney’s poignant “Yesterday.”

  “‘Mountain Chase’ is a rhythmic barnburner we did a few years ago, so this will be the senior students’ second crack at it,” Loy said.

  With 37 violinists, nine violists, 14 cellists and three bass players, Loy said she has a particularly strong lower string section at present.

  “My high schoolers are also preparing dinner music for the madrigal dinner performances of Dec. 3,” she mentioned. “Then we’ll be ready to dive into even more challenging music during the second semester.”

  The WMS string students have a new director this year: Zac Paulsen, a first-year teacher with music education credentials from Concordia College in Moorhead.

  A native of Helena, Mont., Paulsen says he’s enjoyed the start of his educational career in Worthington and emphasizes the welcoming nature of all his WMS and ISD 518 colleagues.

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  “It’s going so well because Mrs. Loy and the other instructors before me have gotten the kids off to such a great start,” Paulsen credited. “I’ve been able to step right in, and I’ve received so much support from Mrs. Loy, especially at the very beginning of the year.”

  Paulsen will guide his 50 fifth-graders through beginning classic melodies such as “Lightly Row,” “Dreidel” and “A Mozart Melody,” while his 47 sixth-graders will tackle “Alouette,” “Oh, Susannah” and “Entry of the Tumblers” by Elliot Del Borgo.

  “‘Tumblers’ is definitely the sixth-graders’ favorite piece,” related Paulsen.

  Continuing up the line, Paulsen has 31 seventh-grade string students who will share “Accents” by Robert S. Frost, “Celtic Dance” by Mark Williams and “O Waly Waly.”

  Doug Spata’s “Gauntlet” and “Appalachian Sunrise” by Doris Gazda are the musical offerings of the 29 eighth graders.

  “The students have been so respectful and willing to learn,” assured Paulsen. “They’re playing at a high level for middle schoolers.”

  Paulsen has been pleased to witness the community’s enthusiastic encouragement of ISD 518’s school music programs at recent band and choir concerts; he expects to see similar attendance and appreciation on Monday evening.

  “It will feel good to get the first concert under my belt,” Paulsen admitted, “but it’s terrific to see the support from the community here at school concerts; that doesn’t happen everywhere.”

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  The fall orchestra festival of Worthington High School and Worthington Middle School string students takes place at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHS gymnasium. There is an admission fee, but District 518 activity passes will be honored and students presenting their school ID badges will be admitted free of charge.

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