2020 Christmas Concert: pandemic-style

2020 Highland Junior High School Eighth Grade Orchestra

This year has been… remarkable. Kids are even more remarkable. They are brilliant and resilient and every day they teach us something new. In our school district, the students began this academic year online. In September, as health “metrics” allowed, they transitioned systematically into on-ground courses with as many health precautions as are feasible in place.

The orchestras at both the junior high and high school are huge and exceptional, because the directors are exceptional. Our eighth grade orchestra has *four* harpists (featured in the second piece), and in “usual” years there are even more performers enrolled.

As my musically inclined friends and family members know, quality music education is best done in-person, unencumbered. This means it is particularly challenging to do successfully “remotely,” and is still tricky in-person when hindered by distancing requirements and physical barriers such as masks. [Admittedly, strings and percussion have it easy compared to those for whom the mouth is an integral part of their performance. Sorry woodwind, brass, and choir friends!] Nevertheless, the cellos and basses have been practicing the room across the hall from the violins and violas most of the time. Also of note: there are *two* seventh and *two* eighth grade orchestra classes, because it is the only way to teach such a large number of students in the available space.

All of this to impress upon you, that the evening of this recording was the first, and only time all of these students have had the opportunity to play together in the same space, at the same time, all year. I told you, they are remarkable!

Unfortunately – because this is 2020 and things are what they are – one of their directors, Mrs. Bennett, was unable to participate in the concert. Mr. Smith did a great job conducting the full performance.

The Highland High School/Junior High School Orchestra is richly blessed with these three extraordinarily dedicated instructor-directors!

I encourage you to visit the Highland Orchestras website to view some spectacular performances.