Orchestra Winter Spotlight

Ellen Hong, Staff Writer

At Science Hill, the music department consists of three programs: Orchestra, Chorus, and Band. Orchestra, while not as known well by all students, works hard behind the curtain and has great amounts to offer. Founded in 1921 by two sisters known as the Wright Sisters, the orchestra brought music to Science Hill and also helped to train future orchestra teachers for the Johnson City School System. Their influence went beyond Science Hill to the larger community, as the Wright Sisters would promote student interest in the Johnson City Symphony. 

New Help!

Rehearsal goes smoothly with Ms. Belt as the orchestra prepares for their winter concert in less than a month (Ellen Hong)

Mrs. Susan Lambert took over the orchestra program 35 years ago with only 32 students in grades 6 – 12. Now the orchestra program is at an all-time high of 400+ students. While she has done an amazing job with the orchestras, this school year she has received help. Ms. Christin Belt is a newly graduated music degree student from The University of Tennessee Knoxville. She has come into the orchestra as an assistant teacher and has already influenced the program. Having two teachers allows them both to accomplish more in little time, creating a better program. 

Within the program…

Within the orchestra, a smaller group of students called the Chamber Ensemble work in the community to bring joy with their musical talents.

“I think the chamber ensemble is a great community outreach program,” says Olivia Simmons, senior. “We get to showcase Science Hill students while also providing music for events and fundraisers. We form a connection with community members that benefit not only the orchestra program but also the school as a whole. The chamber ensemble is the orchestra’s way of giving back to the community.”

The four students that qualified for All-State 2022. Listed from left to right: Gabbie Odom, Joey Skitt, Ellen Hong, and Olivia Simmons. (Ellen Hong)

Chamber Ensemble currently has projects for the winter season in the making, such as a playing event at the Animal Shelter, a Wild Wing fundraiser, playing at Founders Park, and much more. Not only does the chamber ensemble give back to the community, but certain individual students have also achieved impressive accomplishments. In February 2022, five students, Joey Skitt, Michael Hu, Olivia Simmons, Gabbie Odom, and Ellen Hong, qualified for the ETSB

OA All-East Program. All-East is a conference held every year in Gatlinburg where students in high school within the upper east area of Tennessee may audition, and once qualified play in an orchestra based on their grade level for three days with a special guest conductor. At the end of the conference they showcase their achievements to parents and other audience members. Within the All-East orchestra, if students place within a certain number of instruments they qualify for the more prestigious conference called All-State. All-State is held every April in Nashville, and students spend four days at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center playing in their grade-based orchestra and performing their pieces. This past school year, out of the five students who went to All-East, four out of

The Science Hill Chamber Orchestra rehearsing outside the auditorium for their winter events. (Ellen Hong)

the five qualified for All-State. With their qualification in this honorable program, they spread the name of the Science Hill Orchestra and Science Hill High School.                                        

ASTA Competition

On top of all the Science Hill Orchestra accomplished last school year, they are currently preparing for their toughest challenge yet. During spring break, Science Hill Orchestra will be attending the ASTA competition down in Orlando, FL in March. The ASTA competition is o

ne of the most prestigious competitions in the country, only qualifying ten total orchestras nationwide. The SHHS orchestra will perform thirty minutes’ worth of music. The orchestra is currently working hard to prepare their best for the competition in hopes of bringing home a trophy.

Ways to support!

While the ASTA performance is far away, the orchestra has much more to offer close to home! The Science Hill orchestra’s free winter concert on December 6th, December Magic, will have beautiful winter pieces from classic carols to special arrangements of everyone’s favorite winter tunes. If Christmas tunes are not your jam, Electrify Your Symphony with Mark Wood may be the concert for you! On March 25th, you will see the Science Hill Orchestra perform with Emmy-winning composer, a for

The Science Hill Orchestra celebrating after they placed first in the Parks competition at Dollywood in 2022. (Ellen Hong)

mer member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and founder of Wood Violins (electric violin company) Mark Wood. This concert does have a small ticket fee.

Before the Mark Wood concert on March 7th, there will also be a free concert from the Science Hill orchestra performing their ASTA pieces and a few other springtime tunes. Lastly, in honor of the class of 2023, on May 16th there will be a free concert playing pieces picked by the seniors with a special performance from the class of 2023. With so many concerts, there will be no excuse for you not to come out and support the Science Hill Orchestra.