Area string festival’s triumphant return

Musicians from 5th-12th grades perform at show


Carol Chen

Cal High strings and chamber orchestra performs at the district’s Area String Festival, hosted on March 9 in the Cal High Event Center.

For music lovers of all grades, the area string festival returned to Cal High after a two-year hiatus.

The festival, which had been canceled  the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, made its triumphant comeback on Mar. 9 as students from a variety of elementary and middle schools came to Cal High to watch and play with the high school chamber and string orchestras. 

The festival began with the fifth graders and moved to the middle schoolers before ending with the high school musicians. All grades prepared two pieces, and as an encore all schools arranged to play “Ode to Joy”.

The high school chamber and string orchestra prepared a special performance of “The Incredibles 2” soundtrack which was a fun piece that everyone, regardless of their music knowledge, could enjoy.

The event hopes to encourage younger students to continue participating in orchestra until the end of their high school years and keep the music program alive and thriving.

“I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to do this again because these kinds of festivals help us to keep the music program alive,” chamber orchestra director Lori Willis said before the show. “I’m looking forward to [seeing the younger students] thinking ‘Wow, I wanna do that!’ That’s what I’m looking forward to.” 

Some high school students that have been participating in the music program since they were in elementary school find the festival enjoyable every year.

“I think this event is really fun ‘cause I’ve been doing it since like fourth grade,” senior first chair violinist Eunice Oh said. “It’s always really fun to see what the other grades are playing.” 

For most freshman and sophomore orchestra students, this year’s festival is their first time attending and playing as a high school student.

“Since last year was online, I couldn’t really go to the district festival, so I think it would be nice to hear [other groups play],” sophomore Rachel Choi said before last week’s concert. 

Despite the long wait, the two orchestra groups and other schools were able to bring the festival to life thanks to students vigorous preparation.

“To get everybody back, especially after the past few years of not being able to do it [the festival], will be really special and it’s gonna be exciting,” first year string orchestra director Javier Cerna said before the show.

As the festival comes to an end, band directors from all schools hope that younger students will be inspired to continue participating in future music programs. 

“The fifth graders get to see where they’ll end up if they stay in music,” Iron Horse Middle School music director Jeanette Brown said after the performance. “The high school kids kinda can reflect as to where they came from.”