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All-school orchestra concert is 7 p.m. Monday

Prairie Elementary fourth-graders rehearse Thursday morning under the direction of Melanie Loy for Monday evening's all-orchestra concert. (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Entertaining and eclectic musical selections will offer something to please every audience member’s melodic taste at the annual all-school spring orchestra concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the Worthington High School gymnasium.

With 333 ISD 518 string students set to show off their skills on violin, viola, cello or bass, instructors Melanie Loy and Zac Paulsen are eagerly anticipating the performance.

“The majority of my students have been working on the music for this concert over the past three months,” said Paulsen, director of the roughly 160 fifth- through eighth-grade musicians.

“With the amount of preparation time we’ve had, I was able to give them harder music that would really push them — and they’ve gone after it and worked so hard for me.

“I’m so impressed with how far they’ve come in the past few months.”

Under Paulsen’s baton, the fifth-graders will play two tunes — one of which, “Hey, Shepherds!” is an arrangement of Percy Grainger’s highly hummable “Shepherd’s Hey.”

The sixth-graders will mix it up with a Soon Hee Newbold piece called “Viking,” followed by “Luminescence,” which Paulsen says features different bowing techniques.

Paulsen reserves high praise for his eighth-graders, who will play three numbers (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Fire in the Forge” and “Fantasia on a Theme from Thailand”).

“Musically, they are far above where many groups their age would be,” said Paulsen. “I’m sorry to see them go, but I’ll get to watch them move on to bigger and better things next year.”

Loy, meanwhile, will present not only the 105 Prairie Elementary students under her tutelage but also the more advanced 72-member WHS orchestra, comprised of ninth- through 12th graders.

Her elementary string players — 55 violinists, 20 cellists and 30 violists — will demonstrate various beginner techniques as they share four classic concert tunes, including “Ode to Joy” and “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.”

“These are tried-and-true favorites that focus on basic instrument fingerings,” said Loy. “Having this all-school concert can help the younger students see what they can gain if they continue in orchestra and move up the ranks.

“Seeing what the older kids are doing may inspire them to continue, and may allow them to evaluate what they want to do for themselves musically in the future.”

The WHS orchestra members have rehearsed a Robert Longfield arrangement of Karl Jenkins’ “Palladio,” made instantly recognizable to most via its use over a period of years in a memorable commercial for De Beers diamonds.

“It’s in D minor — a great key for strings — and is a fun, very rhythmic, catchy melody that builds, recedes, then builds again to a fortissimo finish,” described Loy.

The senior high ensemble also tackles an arrangement of Aaron Copland’s famous “Hoe Down from Rodeo.”

“’Hoe Down’ is a standard for orchestra repertoire,” said Loy, “and the Minnesota Sinfonia had it on its program when performing here earlier this spring.”

Wrapping up the WHS group’s concert portion will be “Stand By Me” and the Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” the latter featuring senior Sam Martin on electric guitar.

For the 12th consecutive year, Loy will bring together all 333 string students on the concert finale, “Hummel Concertante,” a spectacle that’s not to be missed.

“I like programming it because it has elementary parts that are achievable for the younger players and more advanced parts for the older students,” she explained of the Hummel selection.

“Having the experience of all students playing together at the end is a feat, with each group working on individual parts before we put it all together in a short rehearsal immediately prior to the concert,” said Loy.

“The high schoolers get the reward of being leaders, and the younger players progress on their parts from year to year.”

Other ISD 518 music staff, including Debra Moe, Cindy Anderson and Jeanette Jenson, will join in on the finale as piano accompanists.

“We appreciate the cooperation of all music staff,” assured Loy. “It’s great to have everyone’s assistance for a big project like this concert.”

Additionally, the evening’s program will make room for recognizing the 13 Class of ’18 orchestra seniors and honoring a few of them with senior awards; an eighth-grade director’s award will also be presented. In addition, solo/ensemble contest participants will be identified, as will All-State Orchestra designees.

“We’re grateful for the cooperation from our colleagues, who make it possible for us to have the necessary rehearsals as concert time approaches,” expressed Loy.

Contributed Paulsen, “Our students have grown a lot musically over the course of the year, and we’re super proud of them.

“We’re excited to share that with the community; it’s going to be a great concert.”

The 2018 ISD 518 All-School Orchestra Concert takes place at 7 p.m. Monday in the Worthington High School gymnasium, 1211 Clary St. There is no admission fee, and the public is welcome to attend.

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