Special to The Sumter ItemThe Sumter High School Honors Orchestra directed by Erik Hines will be one of only two ensembles to perform at the South Carolina Music Educators Association Conference in Columbia on Feb. 17. Hines said the orchestra was …
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The Sumter High School Honors Orchestra directed by Erik Hines will be one of only two ensembles to perform at the South Carolina Music Educators Association Conference in Columbia on Feb. 17. Hines said the orchestra was selected through a rigorous audition process to play at the statewide professional development meeting for educators teaching at all levels, from elementary school through college.
"We had to submit previous recordings, and those went before a committee of state music educators," he said. "They scored a number of groups and Sumter High and North Myrtle Beach High were the chosen orchestra programs to perform at this year's conference."
Orchestra programs are selected through the recordings as well as by their achievements, of which the SHS program has many, including having received superior ratings at the concert festival, an annual event sponsored by the SCMEA Orchestra Division.
Hines said the student musicians have been working very hard to prepare for the concert, including commitment to three six-hour Saturday rehearsals.
"The students are very excited and becoming more confident with every rehearsal," he said. "Just today (Feb. 7) they were performing much of their music from memory."
In addition to the regular rehearsals, clinicians from Sumter School District, Lexington, Columbia and Dorchester also worked with the students on Saturdays.
The level of difficulty of the music in the orchestra's recordings is heavily weighted in the SCMEA selection process. Hines said the SHS Honors Orchestra will include music from several time periods in its 35-to-40-minute concert, demonstrating the ensemble's versatility and musicianship.
"We will be performing a selection composed by Bach in 1716 and also a piece written in 2013 with more of a heavy metal style by a modern composer, Brian Balmages," he said. "We have a total of five selections, and they literally range in style and variety - folk melodies from Sweden, English Variations, blues-based harmonies from America, etc. A little bit of everything for everyone."
Sumter High's orchestra classes have grown greatly during the past decade, Hines noted.
The Honors Orchestra comprises 35 students, and more than 90 students total are in the three orchestra classes at Sumter High.
"All new and current orchestra students are auditioned for all three orchestra classes , which is quite a feat considering we started with just 11 students 12 years ago," Hines said. "They represent ninth- through 12th-grade students."
Hines noted that preparing for the SCMEA concert has been a community effort, with First Baptist Church assisting with a location and professional recording equipment, and students, parents and community members donating and raising funds for black dresses and tuxedos, fees for the clinicians and music for the 35 musicians.
He also noted that Huadong Lu, the director of the North Myrtle Beach High School Orchestra, is " a very talented musician and an excellent director. I am looking forward to hearing them perform. Any group that is selected for the State Conference deserves respect and the attention of all orchestra directors."
The public is invited to attend the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, preview of the Sumter High School Honors Orchestra's Feb. 17 SCMEA Annual Conference performance. Tuesday's concert will be presented in Sumter High School auditorium, 2580 McCrays Mill Road. For more information, call the school at (803) 481-4480.
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