Orchestra practicing outdoors

Orchestra members rehearse outside, September 21, 2020 – Agustin Aliaga ’21

At notable occasions during the school year, friends, family, and faculty witness the different harmonies and melodies created by the school’s musicians in Centennial Hall. 

     With the change in momentum and “tempo” from the closing of the school in March, the music groups have faced an obstacle—in-person rehearsals. One of the groups that has been able to formulate a plan to coincide with the new school regulations is the orchestra.

     “Right now we’re starting a program that features outdoor rehearsal (weather permitting) three days a week,” Orchestra Director Mr. Alfred Goodrich said. “We’re organizing around sports, schedules, etc., and we’re rehearsing in the courtyard right outside the music building.”

     A different approach to the pre-recorded videos sent in by orchestra members last school year, Mr. Goodrich and students musicians see many potential benefits from these outdoor rehearsals.

     “So far, we’ve been able to get really wonderful participation and enthusiasm from the orchestra. I think that there’s a tradition in classical music of having performances outside especially during the summer with Pop Orchestras, and fortunately, we have a fairly good acoustic here in the courtyard, where there are enough buildings close by to reflect our sound. I think that we are all more satisfied with the sound we’re getting considering the circumstances,” says Mr. Goodrich.

Cellist Matthew Wang ’21 in rehearsal, September 21, 2020 – Agustin Aliaga ’21

     Fourth Former Luka Sekulic, who plays first violin, has similar feelings.

     “Everyone is enjoying it. We like practicing together, and this method of rehearsing is definitely a good method for us to keep our skills sharp,” Sekulic said.

     To comply with the safety precautions, the orchestra has devised innovative solutions to make sure everyone is safe.

     “I have a unique window into virology and how to mitigate risks for students,” says Mr. Goodrich, who worked in medicinal chemistry and has degrees in physical chemistry and music. “One method is wearing IE gloves with the fingers cut out and extra clothing. These gloves have multiple uses as they prevent the spread of germs from touching equipment and instruments and keeping everyone’s hands warm during the colder weather.”

     Given that weather won’t allow for in-person rehearsals at a certain point, the orchestra holds Zoom meetings every week to review the repertoire and to stay on track.

“It really reminds us of the importance of music, and the importance of spending time in a group, working on a common task, which has been incredibly difficult considering this situation.”

Mr. Alfred Goodrich

     The social aspect of a group environment is extremely important for the orchestra. 

     “The other most important thing,” Mr. Goodrich said, “is that these experiences of community and group presence are so hard to come by during this time, and it really reminds us of the importance of music, and the importance of spending time in a group, working on a common task, which has been incredibly difficult considering this situation. I see this as a really important social exercise and a really fulfilling emotional exercise for a lot of the participants.” 

     “We enjoy the challenge of the new pieces and playing together has made our experience much more enjoyable,” Sekulic said,  “this will definitely help keep the Orchestra together in the long run.”

Author: Ethan Chan '23

Ethan Chan has contributed to The Index since September 2020. He currently serves as a Senior Managing Editor. He previously served as Neighborhood Editor. His arts section piece "Donda: A spiritual awakening" was recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.