Mondays are usually a cello coaching day for me–at least during the k-12 school year. Nearly every afternoon I coach the cello section of the Floyd Central High School 7th period Orchestra. This is a high school group that has gone every year for 21 (or maybe 22 or 23? I lost count) years in a row to the state level.
This year 6 of the student cellists in this orchestra were members of the Indiana All-State Orchestra (a total of 13 students from Floyd Central High School were in this year’s All-State Orchestra) which, proportionally speaking (as well as from an absolute number standpoint) for the cello section (which I think had 13 members this year) and from the standpoint of the orchestra as a whole is the most students from one school to have privilege of being members.
Pound for pound, this is likely the strongest string section in the orchestra.
The repertoire that they will be playing for this year’s state contest, and with which I’ve been coaching them (since Fall of 2008), is the finale of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 8, Op. 46; Bach’s Air on G which is an adaptation of the second movement from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068 (this is the Stokowski arrangement–meaning the cellos get the melody throughout the whole piece); and the finale to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in d minor, Op. 47.
Many of the students in the 7th period orchestra (as well as the other orchestras at FCHS) are also members of the Floyd County Youth Symphony which meets every Monday night during the school year. I also coach this group. Students get credit for being in this orchestra which is open to students in the whole Kentuckiana area. Membership requires that the students be in their school orchestras or bans (if there is one) as well as take private lessons.
I was a member of this orchestra for a number of years, serving as Principle cellist from my Freshman to Senior year in high school. The highlight of my tenure there was playing the first movement of the Dvořák for my final concert with the orchestra on mother’s day in 1990. The director, Doug Elmore, who conducted the orchestra for my solo is still conducting this group. He also happens to be the orchestra director of the Floyd Central High School Orchestras and has as much as anything to do with the strength of the program down here!
The organization is going through some growing pains now. The last couple of years I was a member it was split into three groups. The Mini Orchestra (strings) which is roughly grade school aged. The middle group, the Festival Orchestra, roughly corresponded to Middle School/Junior High and the Top group, the Philharmonic consisted mostly of High School students. Obviously, since membership is by audition, ability level has as much, if not more to do with where students will be placed.
As of right now, the middle group is non-existent and the Philharmonic currently has 17 cellos in it. Comparable to the numbers in it last year. The middle group desperately needs to be brought back, obviously!
The repertoire that the Philharmonic is currently working on for their upcoming March concert, and on which I’ve been coaching them (since Fall 2007), is Rimsky-Korsakov’s Procession of the Nobles which is the Cortège from his Suite from the Opera-Ballet Mlada (this is in an arrangement by Merle J. Isaac); and the first movement of Borodin’s Symphony No. 2 in b minor; and a really wonderful big band/full orchestral arrangement of Frank Sinatra tunes which I’ll have to post the details about later once I remember who made the arrangement.
This is my usual Monday. On occasion I will also coach the 1st period orchestra cello section at Floyd Central. On other days I may find myself at other area schools running cello sectionals/coachings throughout Southern Indiana and Louisville. Some days I might even fill in conducting.
What I think I might do on Monday nights after my day is over is post some reflections on running sectionals and pick apart some of the repertoire: maybe talk about fingerings, bowings and other technical details that cross my mind.