Students reflect on solo and ensemble festival


Rowan Rembert

Nathan Moldavsky, senior; Blessing Kim, senior; Mary Giersch, junior; Chase LaLonde, junior; Katya Imas, senior, prepare to perform their quintet piece, Trout Quintet.

Ranging from first-time freshmen performers to experienced seniors, band, choir and orchestra students showed off their musical talents at the regional Solo and Ensemble festival on Saturday, March 18.

This year was choir director Paul Oestreich’s second year organizing the Solo and Ensemble festival. Oestreich described his list of duties that he shares with orchestra teacher, John Emmanuelson who handles the communications for the event, and band teacher, Todd Spindler, who organizes the set up and take down.

“I am mostly in charge of the scheduling and the execution of the event as it’s happening. I’m also in charge of concessions and in general, the record keeping,” Oestreich said.

Besides organizing the event, Oestreich also helps his own students prepare for the competition, pulling knowledge from his own experience as an adjudicator at other Solo and Ensemble festivals.

“When you use the rubric over and over again to judge kids, you’re kind of hypersensitive to the things that the judges are looking for on the scorecard, ” Oestreich said.

One of Oestreich’s choir students, Addison Drumm, freshman, participated in Solo and Ensemble for the first time this year, performing an Italian aria. As a first-time performer, Drumm expressed confusion and nervousness leading up to the festival day.

“Leading up, I felt a whole bunch of confusion–none of it really made sense until I got there and then it really started to click in place. I was definitely nervous; my legs were shaking, but it was fun, ” Drumm said.

While this was Drumm’s first time performing at Solo and Ensemble, that was not true for orchestra student, Katya Imas, senior, who has been performing at Solo and Ensemble for seven years. Throughout those seven years, Imas has learned many things that have helped her when preparing for this year’s competition.

“I don’t need to take myself that seriously. It’s not that big of a deal if I don’t get the score I want. What’s important is that I’m performing and having fun and that I worked really hard for this moment,” Imas said.

While Imas has learned to have fun when performing at Solo and Ensemble, she still expressed dissatisfaction in one aspect of the competition–the inconsistency in scoring.

“I do wish that we would be assigned to judges that either play our instrument or play an instrument similar. It’s really important that judges give positive feedback along with their criticism which a lot of the time, they don’t do,” Imas said.

However, while Oestreich acknowledges that it is difficult to standardize musical performance, he encourages students to disregard their scores and focus more on the performance experience and the feedback the judges provide.

“It’s definitely worth your time. Scores don’t really matter too much in the end. The point of Solo and Ensemble is not the score that you get– it’s the experience to perform for an adjudicator and to receive specific feedback about what you did and did not do,” Oestreich said.