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 Post subject: Orchestra?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 12:34 pm 
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Well, we don't really have a place for Orchestra topics...seeing as how this is a BAND website. BUT, just had a few inquiries I figure this forum is the best place to get the feedback I'm looking for. When I first came to California I was SHOCKED :shock: to find that the high school didn't even offer a Orchestra class of any kind. In Utah this is unheard of, EVERY high school has some sort of Orchestra program. Anyways, as I found out, it's not so uncommon here in Cali to exclude Orchestra's from the available curriculum. Why is this acceptable? I for one enjoy a good orchestra performance from time to time, and have even performed in an orch. a few times. So WHY? That is the first part of my question.

Second part of my question. There are still many schools in Cali. with great orchestra programs (from what I hear), which schools are the Arcadia's and Etiwanda's of orchestra? What are some of the really good programs out there? I'm sure someone on this forum knows something on this subject.

And thirdly, what are your fav. professional orchestra's and orchestral pieces? As I've mentioned before I love the Kronos Quartet, and have been to a few orchestra concerts with my ex, and let me tell you....some things are just better on strings. Deep dark moods, can be done very well on horns of course, but for me strings can take that to a whole new level that is just amazing and completely sucks you in.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:02 pm 
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World of Pageantry is just that...

There are hundreds of orchestra websites available including the various associations, organizations, universities, music conservatories, and major professional orchestras.

Orchestras are called "wire bands" by the Texas band directors... I first heard this term at the TMEA and TBA Conferences in San Antonio. They call choirs "holler bands." CLASSIC! The Texas band directors are a great group of folk.

vore 8-)

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:09 pm 
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Last time I looked I thought we had a Concert and Jazz Ensembles forum. It doesn't say "Concert Band," it says "Ensembles." I believe an orchestra qualifies as an ensemble!

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 Post subject: Re: Orchestra?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 2:07 pm 
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Goth_MV_Tenor wrote:
Second part of my question. There are still many schools in Cali. with great orchestra programs (from what I hear), which schools are the Arcadia's and Etiwanda's of orchestra? What are some of the really good programs out there? I'm sure someone on this forum knows something on this subject.

Mount Carmel High School Symphony Orchestra
Mount Carmel High School Chamber Orchestra

Rancho Bernardo High School Symphony Orchestra
Rancho Bernardo High School Chamber Orchestra

I have recordings of RB's Symphony Orchestra/Chamber Orchestra, PM me.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:09 pm 
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I think the reason you don't see a lot of orchestra programs in California schools today is because of Proposition 13 in the 70's which cut a lot of funding to schools which in turn, eliminated a lot of "extra curricular" programs in public schools. Unfortunately a lot of times the arts are always first and the hardest hit in budget cuts.

There are some school districts that have thriving orchestra programs, but they are usually in districts that are in well off areas. Not always..but mostly.

Walnut Valley School district has a thriving orchestra program. In 2004 all three of it's middle schools performed at Carnegie Hall. In fact that was a first for any school district in the United States to have all of it's middle schools to perform there in the same year. All three of those schools Suzanne, South Pointe, and Chapparal would again appear at Carnegie Hall in 2006. Both WVUSD high schools (Diamond Bar and Walnut) have top rated orchestras.


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 Post subject: The vanishing...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:11 am 
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Prop. 13 killed orchestras in So. Cal. For you out-of-staters and younguns, it set the statewide property tax at 1% and allowed increases of only 2% per year. It ushered in the current California attitude of wanting it all without paying taxes for it. $50/year tax for parks? NO WAY! $45 billion in bonds anyone? Sure!

They said if it passed the schools would take a huge hit, and we did. Bands managed to survive because of their visibility I think. You gotta have a band for the football games! Vocational education nearly died as well and has never recovered, something I think is an even bigger tragedy. Now we have to pretend that every kid in our schools is going to college.

We've tossed around the idea of starting a string program in my district, but it's a huge undertaking and you have to convince the district to spend a lot of money. You need lots of cellos and double basses and if the program really takes off, you need to hire a string teacher. Plus, there are the logistical issues. If there's a full-time band and string teacher, who gets the rehearsal space and who gets relegated to the MPR/Cafeteria? You need more storage too. I think many districts haven't made the leap back in because if you're not really passionate about strings, these obstacles are very daunting. Why aren't more people passionate about strings? There's not much orchestra in the school system. Vicious circle.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:15 pm 
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There's an incredible program at Santa Monica HS. They have the following ensembles:

Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, String Orchestra and Beginning Strings.


The Long Beach schools traditionally had a strong commitment to music, especially orchestra. Wilson, Long Beach Poly and Millikan had strong programs. I presume they still do.

This is my 3rd year teaching orchestra. I have 65 string players divided into two string orchestras, primarily by grade. The other HS in our district has around 60 players, but just one class (Block Schedule). Once I get the attitude turned around (about 2-3 more years) I hope to start a full orchestra.

There are other places they have string programs in Northern California, but not as many as there should be.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:32 pm 
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SuperAction80 wrote:
I think the reason you don't see a lot of orchestra programs in California schools today is because of Proposition 13 in the 70's which cut a lot of funding to schools which in turn, eliminated a lot of "extra curricular" programs in public schools. Unfortunately a lot of times the arts are always first and the hardest hit in budget cuts.

There are some school districts that have thriving orchestra programs, but they are usually in districts that are in well off areas. Not always..but mostly.

Walnut Valley School district has a thriving orchestra program. In 2004 all three of it's middle schools performed at Carnegie Hall. In fact that was a first for any school district in the United States to have all of it's middle schools to perform there in the same year. All three of those schools Suzanne, South Pointe, and Chapparal would again appear at Carnegie Hall in 2006. Both WVUSD high schools (Diamond Bar and Walnut) have top rated orchestras.


First, thanks for the kind words about our orchestras. I would like to add a few things.

When Rick Lorenzen arrived at DBHS there were only 45 kids in orchestra, now just 5 years later there are over 200 kids. Unfortunately, the administration didn't believe us that the growth would be this great, so when it came time to create the master schedule they went with only 2 classes instead of the 3 or 4 that we suggested. Walnut high school also has about 200 string players (in 3 classes, I believe). South Pointe MS does not have an orchestra program but does have a band program of about 600 kids. Suzanne MS has about 250 string players (in 3 classes) and would probably have more if they had more than one teacher. Chaparral (note the spelling) has over 300 string players in 5 classes. Chaparral has 3 full time music teachers (1 each for band, orchestra, choir/guitar). Chaparral feeds DBHS, Suzane feeds WHS, and South Pointe feeds both high schools.

Chaparral will be performing for the 5th time at Carnegie Hall and for the 4th time at the CMEA State Conference this spring.

Other very strong orchestras in So Cal include Esperanza HS, Arcadia HS, Oak Avenue IS, Bernardo Yorba MS, Travis Ranch MS . . . there are others who I can't think of off the top of my head, it's a Friday night at the end of an exhausting week!


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 Post subject: Some SF Bay Area orchestras...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:35 pm 
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Here are some strong orchestras that I am aware of in my neck of the woods:

Homestead HS (Cupertino)
Lynbrook HS (San Jose)
Monta Vista HS (Cupertino)
Saratoga HS (Saratoga)
Kennedy MS (Cupertino, feeds into Monta Vista)

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Last edited by Wildabeast on Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:28 pm 
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Chaporch wrote:
First, thanks for the kind words about our orchestras. I would like to add a few things.

When Rick Lorenzen arrived at DBHS there were only 45 kids in orchestra, now just 5 years later there are over 200 kids. Unfortunately, the administration didn't believe us that the growth would be this great, so when it came time to create the master schedule they went with only 2 classes instead of the 3 or 4 that we suggested. Walnut high school also has about 200 string players (in 3 classes, I believe). South Pointe MS does not have an orchestra program but does have a band program of about 600 kids. Suzanne MS has about 250 string players (in 3 classes) and would probably have more if they had more than one teacher. Chaparral (note the spelling) has over 300 string players in 5 classes. Chaparral has 3 full time music teachers (1 each for band, orchestra, choir/guitar). Chaparral feeds DBHS, Suzane feeds WHS, and South Pointe feeds both high schools.

Chaparral will be performing for the 5th time at Carnegie Hall and for the 4th time at the CMEA State Conference this spring.

Other very strong orchestras in So Cal include Esperanza HS, Arcadia HS, Oak Avenue IS, Bernardo Yorba MS, Travis Ranch MS . . . there are others who I can't think of off the top of my head, it's a Friday night at the end of an exhausting week!

Sorry for mispelling Chaparral in my previous post and it's amazing to hear about the growth of Diamond Bar's Orchestra. I had always assumed it was big.

It's great to hear Chaparral is headed to Carnegie Hall again. I had the pleasure to hear them perform there last spring along with Suzanne whom I was there to see. I actually was seated next to the conductor's sister who was there to watch her son whom the conductor had perform with his orchestra. It was magical night to say the least.

Lastly I would like to say that Suzanne does have more than one teacher. Ami Lorenzen is the director and SMS also has Mr. Andre Beltran who started out has a student teacher a few years back but seems to be permanent now. Mr. Beltran was recently announced as Suzanne's associate conductor at a recent event.

Thanks for the update and congratulations for appearing at Carnegie Hall in 2007 for the 5th time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 5:34 pm 
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i just attended a concert at Diamond bar. their wind symphony was stunning as always but the depth of string players at that school is simply amazing. their advanced orchestra completely blew me away... better than ANY i have heard around here. Even their full orchestra was superb, althought it was hard to hear the woodwinds due to the amount of string players there. I also attended South Pointe's concerts yesterday at their wind ensemble is stronger than ever. The director said something about coming back from touring chicago and performing with members of the boston symphony.


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 9:54 pm 
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I graduated from Colton High School in 1975, 32 years ago.

As Colton Union High School, it had an orchestra through the 1950s. I never found out what the reason was for not having an orchestra anymore.

When I was in school, here is a list of districts with high schools with orchestras within close distance to Colton. I am not sure every high school actually had an orchestra. Names for the school districts are those used in the early 1970s.

Chaffey Joint Union High School District
Redlands Unified School District
Riverside Unified School District
San Bernardino City Unified School District

The following districts did not have high school orchestras. Or, let's say, I never saw a high school orchestra from the schools of these districts!

Colton Joint Unified School District
Fontana Unified School District
Jurupa Unified School District
Moreno Valley Unified School District
Rialto Unified School District
Rim of the World Unified School District
Yucaipa Joint Unified School District

When I was at Colton High, a Broadway musical play would be performed each spring using an orchestra. String players for these were secured from the old Orange Belt Musicians' Association (now merged into AFM Local 47) and the University of Redlands.

Proposition 13 is a great scapegoat for why California doesn't have certain things, even though California didn't have those things before.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 10:48 am 
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We are trying to offer orchestra here in Camarillo, unfortunately, only two students have signed up for the class and our district will not allow a class of under 20 to exist. I suppose that I can combine a "wire band" and a "holler band", to coexist in 1 classroom during the same period, but what repertoire could I offer for 2 strings and 17 girls and two young men? :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 6:46 am 
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Yuba CIty, in northern california, has a good orchestra program. They start kids in 4th grade, and go all through high school. The orchestra teachers have kept their program visible by performing at lots of local functions (Rotary lunches, etc). It also helps, I think, that we have a district music supervisor, and he has control of what is offered where, rather than the admins at each site.


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 Post subject: Re: Orchestra?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:18 am 
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It is really sad to see that school orchestras are in the shadow of the bands in San Diego. I heard from various sources that school orchestras were very popular in San Diego during the 50s, 60s and early 70s, not just in the Poway District. They were really the focal point of the music programs, more so than the bands.

I played with many adult musicians who told me that they did amazing things during their high school years both in the school orchestras and ESPECIALLY in the Youth orchestras. They said that they played a lot more modern music in the youth orchestras back in those days. Now the programming for youth orchestras have gotten really conservative.

Yep, Prop 13 killed off school orchestras in the San Diego Unified School District alright and has never made a full recovery, and never will.

My conductor mentioned that he sang Honegger's King David with the San Diego District Honor Orchestra AND Honor Chorus back in the early 70s when he was in High School. They went from doing something like that do playing simplified arrangements now. This is REALLY UNACCEPTABLE!

Due to the vocal pleading of some of the more passionate student musicians, the San Diego district honor orchestra for a few years in the late 90s/early 00s played unarranged/un-simplified orchestral music with college/professional conductors. What really infuriates me is that they are now going back to playing simplified arrangements with high/middle school conductors like they did in the past. THIS IS NOT PROGRESS! THIS IS A SEVERE REGRESSION! The irony is that there are more high school orchestras, popping up in the SD school district. The Honor band on the other hand has been doing more challenging music these days and they bring in a university conductor. They treat the Honor Band as the Star Ensemble. This is a true travesty!

I am glad I am no longer in high school. I finished high school many years ago. I even finished grad school. The music scenery really changes for the better once you leave high school. I did very little playing in high school and did most of it during college and after. Based on my experience and observation, Orchestras get a lot more recognition and prestige than bands after high school, and they are often the main star ensemble in many colleges, universities, and music schools, even in San Diego. There are more reputable and recognizable community orchestras in San Diego then there are community bands.


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