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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


Phoenix Orchestra Polyphonically Prepare For Assessment

As a practice run for their final assessment at Lightridge High School, both the Chamber advanced and artist orchestras performed three pieces. With the combined effort of underclassmen and upperclassmen, the respective groups created a united sound to be critiqued by three judges.
Shaila Patel
Freshmen Evan Danh and Alex Bethke play their viola and cello while bouncing off each other, reading the piece, and combining both their sounds to create a new one.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Chamber advanced and artist orchestra students performed a pre-assessment concert in preparation for their final assessment at Lightridge High School on March 1. With three judges positioned throughout the auditorium, the two groups performed three pieces each to receive feedback on what to improve on.

Concertmaster for the artist orchestra, senior Rohan Santosh looks forward to the judges critiques in order to improve the group’s overall sound. “They have a bunch of categories that they grade numerically and the main thing that we got to work on is intonation, which is essentially how the notes sound and how [correct] they are,” Santosh said. “[It’s] especially hard because a lot of our pieces are fast and in the heat of the moment you can easily trip up.”

To begin the concert, the advanced orchestra, mainly consisting of underclassmen, started their repertoire with a warm up of “Dragon Slayer” by Rob Grice. With a dramatic tone resembling medieval times, the piece featured a perfect culmination of the string instruments to set the group on the right track. The younger group then went on to play their first piece: “Appalachian Sunrise” by Doris Gazda. With vibrant harmonies, the advanced orchestra remained focused throughout the song, with each member intently waiting to be led in. Finally, they closed out their performance with “Spartacus” by Brian Balmages, a piece featuring intense, dynamic rhythms that contained several roaring sections.

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Following the advanced orchestra’s exit, the artist orchestra, consisting of upperclassmen, took their positions. “I think [the pre-assessment concert] helps us play the pieces in order, because in classes, we usually separate our practices for each piece [and don’t have] the pressure of being on stage with the lights [or] audience looking at us,” senior Charlotte Cheung said. “It puts a lot on us and we always mess up during pre-assessment, but during the assessment, we get over that fear.” 

After a special recognition Santosh, the concertmaster, the group began their warm-up with “Lullaby” by William Hofeldt, an eloquent and soothing introduction to their ensemble. Their first piece began as they played “Rhythm Sticks” by Shirl Jae Atwell, an upbeat piece with notes highlighting each of the string instruments. Lastly, they concluded their pre-assessment concert with the electric piece “Perseus” by Soon Hee Newbold. With harmonies telling the story of ancient hero Perseus as he slays Medusa, the artist orchestra enraptured the audience with daring melodies, in large part due to Santosh, who performed a solo portion and led his section to an overall smooth and clean performance. “[Concertmaster] is certainly a fancy title,” Santosh said. “It’s nice to have that title but I definitely got to do a better job. It’s called concertmaster not just because you sit in the front, but because you are technically supposed to be leading with the conductor so I have to move my own body to cue in different sections and lead the orchestra.”

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About the Contributors
Shaila Patel
Shaila Patel, Website Coordinator
Shaila Patel is a senior in her second year on the newspaper staff, fueled by her strong sense of curiosity. Since a young age, Patel has been aiding people close to her. Whether it be through PEER or through daily actions, she is passionate about helping strangers, close friends, and family who are struggling in any way, but especially with any mental health concerns. Caring is a big part of who she is. Patel is also an avid dancer. She believes that dance is a form of art, especially the Indian classical dance she practices, Bharatanatyam. Patel sees it as a useful tool for many to convey stories, culture, who people are, and more. 
Tanishka Enugu
Tanishka Enugu, Editor In Chief
Tanishka Enugu is a senior and this is her fourth year on The Blaze staff! A passionate writer who appreciates the community the newspaper brings, she loves being able to represent the student body through the paper. Tanishka is also a huge history buff who strives to engage in all things related to the subject through her role as president of both the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society, and the Academic Team here at the Rock. Formerly the sports section editor, she is also a four year member of the track and field team, and loves to watch and discuss all things hockey. Similar to some of her favorite pieces to write, she enjoys indulging in pop culture, good books, and even better TV shows during her free time.
Hylay Assefa
Hylay Assefa, Staff Writer
Hylay Assefa is a junior at Rock Ridge High School and is in his third year on “The Blaze'' staff. He primarily joined the staff due to his passion for reporting and writing news stories. Assefa, who also currently plays soccer for the Rock Ridge soccer team, coaches Loudoun One Soccer for youth boys throughout his community. As a fan of a wide variety of music genres, such as rap and R&B, Assefa’s favorite musical artists include “The Weeknd,” and “Destroy Lonely.” Assefa looks forward to the upcoming Rock Ridge soccer season and prom later this year.

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