East Lansing High School Orchestra’s Encore Strings Receives State's Highest Honor
Above: East Lansing High School Orchestra’s Encore Strings, courtesy of the East Lansing Orchestra’s website.
Last May, David Rosin received the best news a performing arts instructor could receive. Rosin, the 7th to 12th grade orchestras instructor within the East Lansing School District, found out that his Encore Strings Ensemble was selected as the featured ensemble (MMC).
The Encore Strings were selected by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA), and being the featured ensemble is the highest honor an ensemble can receive in the state of Michigan.
The ensemble will perform January 25 from 11-11:45 a.m. at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.
“We were selected by a panel of expert musicians and educators through a blind audition process,” Rosin said. “I submitted our 2018 MSBOA festival performance recording based on a recommendation from the judging panel. 41 ensembles applied and eight were selected to perform at the conference. The conference is attended by more than 9,000 music educators at the K-12, collegiate, and professional levels.”
The concert will highlight not only the Encore Strings, but the entire EL orchestra program.
According to Rosin, the concert will feature selections from a number of different composers including the prelude from the “Holberg Suite” by Grieg and “Epic for String Orchestra,” written by 2018 East Lansing High School graduate Joy Li. The latter was commissioned for the Michigan Music Conference.
There will also be a Bluegrass Medley that will feature the new middle school Ovation Strings ensemble playing with the Encore Strings. The piece was arranged by Mikaela Vanator, the new Macdonald Middle School strings and band teacher.
East Lansing musician and parent Rodney Page will perform his “Danzan” with the Encore Strings. “Mr. Page is a parent and a fantastic musician,” Rosin said. “He will be our guest performer and conductor.
In addition, ‘Urban Concerto Grosso’ by Balmages will also be performed. This piece features an electric string quintet and orchestra. It includes amps, electric instruments, and distortion pedals.”
“This is the Encore Strings’ second performance at the MMC,” Rosin said. “We performed along with the Symphonic Band back in 2014. The band and orchestra also performed there once in when it was held in Ann Arbor.”
There are three orchestras at East Lansing High School: Chamber Orchestra for 9-10th grade, Symphonic Orchestra for 10-12th grade, and Encore Strings for 9-12th grade selected by audition. MacDonald Middle School features four orchestras, including one for each grade 6-8: and Ovation Strings, a group that meets before school.
Rosin estimates roughly fifteen percent of East Lansing string students take private lessons. In addition to time spent in lessons and private practice sessions, Encore Strings ensemble members spend many hours practicing in advance of events like MMC, often, during less than ideal hours.
“The Encore Strings meet Tuesdays and Thursdays [during] zero hour, at the high school from about 6:50-7:35 a.m., and the students receive a ½ credit for the year,” Rosin said. “We have also scheduled some Wednesday evenings and Saturday rehearsals to prepare for this performance.”
Junior violinist Anthony Medei, the concertmaster of the Encore Strings, has participated in the conference numerous times, and describes it as an amazing.
“I’ve been to it multiple times, and I am always amazed at its size,” said Medei, who previously attended the conference after being selected to play with the MSBOA's All-State Orchestra based on solo auditions. “If anything has to do with music education in Michigan, it’s at MMC. Honestly, I don’t think it is possible to have a favorite year. Every year is so different, and I have so many good memories that I can’t pick just one year. This year, I’m looking most forward to MMC. It’s going to be so awesome playing there, and I can’t wait for all of our hard work to pay off.”
Through all the excitement, Rosin is trying to keep things in perspective, and he hopes his students do as well. He encourages them to stay grounded, and give the best performance they can, while enjoying an experience that only comes around every so often.
“I am just hoping that the students give a great performance that they make musical memories they will remember for years to come,” Rosin said.