All Tuned Up and Ready for an Audience


Matthew Jacobi

During class on Tuesday, October 26, Chamber Orchestra rehearses “Danza” and “Ellis Island” on stage. Emma Schonhoff, violinist in Chamber, says that she is excited about the concert because “it gives us a chance to show off our work in front of family and friends, and the experience brings us closer as a group.”

Matthew Jacobi, Editor-in-Chief

Bright lights shine upon the players. Music stands and chairs fill the stage. The sound of music packs the auditorium. After a year’s break from in-person musical concerts, Pattonville High School’s orchestra is performing their fall concert this month.

The orchestra will perform on Thursday, October 28, 2021, at 7 pm in the auditorium. String Orchestra will be playing first, performing “Gargoyles” and “Lullaby to the Moon.” Concert Orchestra will be next, playing “The Code” and “Fantasia on an Original Theme.” Chamber Orchestra will be performing “Danza” and “Ellis Island.” The Symphonic Orchestra will then perform “Drifen,” “American Reel,” and “Lullaby.” For the finale, all four orchestras will perform “Waltz of the Wicked” together.

Mr. Rueschhoff, the new Orchestra director, said that if he had to give the concert a theme, it would be contemporary string orchestra music, with a couple of Halloween pieces thrown in. “I don’t stick to themes too much because there are a lot of really good string orchestra pieces that don’t really fit into a great theme, like most of those on this concert!”

Mr. Rueschhoff said that the orchestra students have done a great job of getting used to a new director so quickly. “We all have different teaching styles as teachers, but the orchestras here figured it out really quickly and went to work on those hard spots right away. A lot of the music is sounding very professional because of it!” he said.

As the director, Mr. Rueschhoff believes that the hardest part is “picking music that most people will enjoy while also picking music that is still challenging but not overwhelmingly so. If you can do that, students tend to do the work that they need to do, but without knowing the students before this year, it was pretty tricky!”

Mr. Rueschhoff also hopes that having concerts back in person will provide a goal for students and a sense of accomplishment.

“It can be hard to stay focused when there isn’t any external motivation to do so, but I think the thrill of performing live again should give students something to work towards,” he said. “Then afterwards, we can rest easy knowing that all of our hard work went towards something!”

Elly Lu, the Concertmaster for Symphonic Orchestra, the highest and most challenging orchestra, said that she is excited to get back to concerts on the stage.

“I miss the feeling of the bright lights, the attention of the audience solely on us, and I especially miss the stress of preparing for these concerts,” she said. “I’m also excited to play with my peers again, I’ve so dearly missed the feeling of an orchestra (even the violas).”

During virtual classes last year, Elly states that she didn’t really enjoy playing. “I kind of let myself go. I didn’t enjoy playing and practicing all that much and I honestly kind of hated the violin,” she said.

“But through that experience, through that well-deserved break from music,” she said, “as corny as it sounds, I was able to find my love for music and performing again. I also learned that patience is something I deserve, as well as everyone else.”

With all of the responsibilities and accomplishments, Elly makes sure she has adequate time to practice. She does not take her previous success for granted.

“I’ve been a section leader for about four years, I’m currently Concertmaster (which still kind of doesn’t feel real), I’m in Pit Orchestra for the musical which is a pretty high accomplishment, I’ve scored Exemplary at Districts and Gold at State several times as well, and I’ve even decided to turn this into a career,” she said.

She tries to practice at least four times a week, an hour each session, though her goal is to practice for at least two hours a day. She starts off tuning, and then moves to scales, which currently she is doing a three octave G major scale, and then moves onto audition excerpts, and pauses for a break.

Finally, she will work on her solo she’s performing for college auditions called “Viotti Violin Concerto No. 23.”

“At school, when I get the chance, I practice viola which is also for the All-Suburban auditions. Auditioning on two instruments gives me a higher chance of getting in,” Elly explained.

If Elly decided to go with her runner-up instrument, she said it would have been percussion back in middle school.

“If I had switched to percussion I’m not sure I would have achieved anything noteworthy (pun kind of intended),” Elly said.

Elly also said that her “rhythm and tempo tracking are not good in the slightest, so I probably helped band dodge a bullet by staying in orchestra.”

Come watch and support your Pattonville Orchestra for their first in-person concert since February, 2020, on Thursday, October 28 at 7pm in the PHS Auditorium. The concert will also be live-streamed on Pattonville High School Orchestra’s Facebook Page.