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Orchestra performs alongside cellist Bruce Uchimura at Gala fundraiser

Successful night of food, raffles, fun concludes with excellent performance
Ren Geis
Novi philharmonic orchestra performs on the auditorium stage on March 2.

Lights flicker out one by one down the science hall of Novi High School. The once vibrant hall is beat down and won over by its typical Saturday night gloom. Doors creak, the hollow eyes of posters stare down the vacant floor; but far away a sound disrupts the sad silence of the school’s weekend. Music. The long notes of a cello. A vibrant yet intense melody drifting in from far away- followed by rambunctious applause. The orchestra, bringing life to the weekend and a quiet school building. With them, for the first time ever, sits accomplished cellist Bruce Uchimura, elevating their performance to new heights.

Beginning at five o’clock on March 2, Novi’s orchestra program held an “Orchestra Gala” proceeding their spring concert at 7 p.m. Junior violinist Ryan Kang explained the significance.

“This was the first ever Orchestra Gala to take place alongside our normal spring concert. Normally we have a festival that we go to at this time of year; but this year we did the gala concert to try and raise funds since we didn’t quite hit our fundraising goals yet,” Kang said. “We normally need to raise ten to twelve thousand dollars. We were closer to five or six grand. To make up the difference no one really wanted to go around selling cookies or chocolate bars or whatever. So we decided to do the gala. It’s more fun, more related to orchestra, and ended up being a great way to raise money. Students haven’t been told a final count yet, but we definitely met our goals.”


 For $30 students, parents, and other party-goers gained entry to the Atrium where they were seated amongst the wafting smells of catered Italian cuisine at tables decked in green, white, and musical centerpieces. Admission to the dinner came with entry into a series of raffles to be announced later in the night.


Kang explained the process of creating the prizes, “The orchestra officers organized fundraising for the raffle baskets we gave away at the concert. Each grade had their own theme for the baskets. One of them was “movie night,” one was “coffee and tea.” Kids in the orchestra or local businesses would donate to the baskets and the officers put them together into these awesome bundles for the concert day.”


After a brief welcome by orchestra director, Jim Van Eizenga, families began a two-hour meal and celebration before the concert commenced. The formal dinner quickly progressed into a lively party. Rambunctious students and children ran between tables to talk to their peers while tables full of families ate while engrossed in conversation. 


Students departed the celebration at 6:30 p.m. to prepare for their concert at 7 p.m.. Tuning took place in the orchestra, choir, and band rooms. The four orchestras worked with their respective officers to prepare. Starting later than expected, Van Eizenga introduced the concert at 7:10 p.m. and announced the winner of the first raffle, as he would before each orchestra performed. All four of the high school’s orchestras took the stage with philharmonic orchestra taking up the rear and stealing the show alongside Western Michigan University professor, Bruce Uchimura.


This final showing was met with universal praise and a near-standing ovation.


“My favorite performance of the night was the philharmonic orchestra. They did this one piece, the eighth symphony – the happiest of all the symphonies. They did a really good job of phrasing it on stage and building up the tension in the music,” symphony performer Ethan Chen said. “Mr. Uchimura was great. He hasn’t played solo for any other orchestra before so it was super special.”


Overall, the students of the orchestra program are happy with the results of the event and their performances.


“I think everyone did really great. I really liked how everybody did on stage,” Kang said. “I think there’s some room for improvement in all the orchestras and for myself as an individual. The soloist Mr. Uchimura was excellent and we really appreciated him coming out to play with us.”


In addition to performing at the concert, Mr. Uchimura gave a cello masterclass with students and worked with them before the performance.


“It was amazing to be able to work with someone that had that much experience,” Kang said.


Chen agreed that the experience was beneficial.


 “I joined orchestra in Junior year, so this was my third performance in high school,” Chen said. “I was a little bit more nervous than other people about sounding out of tune. But other than that it was really fun and cool to interpret different styles of music on stage.”


With the Gala behind them, the orchestras are already hard at work preparing for their end of year performance on May 20. This performance will be free to attend and held in the high school auditorium – once again bringing the joy of music to a quiet school building and the families that call it home.

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About the Contributors
Alexander Dyga
Alexander Dyga, Staff Writer
Alexander Dyga is a Junior. This is his first year on staff. Alex enjoys reading, writing, and gaming for an unhealthy amount of time. He is the recipient of 5 MIPA awards honorable mention awards- 4 for sports photography and 1 for news brief writing. There’s a story everywhere. If you have one contact him at [email protected].
Ren Geis
Ren Geis, Staff Writer
Ren is a Sophomore, this is his first year on staff.
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