From silly to sentimental, and sacred to seasonal, Killeen ISD’s high school and middle school orchestras ushered in the holiday season in grandiose, musical style.
The Holiday String Extravaganza Monday at the Bell County Expo Center showcased the largest contingent of KISD school orchestras ever, including 500 student musicians from seven schools.
From its origins in 2007, with Harker Heights High School, and Liberty Hill, Eastern Hills and Union Grove middle schools, the district has added Chaparral High School, as well as Nolan, Patterson and Smith middle school orchestras to its growing program.
Killeen ISD Assistant Fine Arts Director of Instrumental Music Garth Gundersen introduced the orchestras and the pieces they performed during the holiday showcase.
He also used the venue to highlight top-performing individuals.
Honoring Top High School Orchestra Musicians
Introducing the high school portion of the orchestra event, the master of ceremonies pointed out Texas Music Educators Association All-Region, All-Area and All-State Orchestra members.
This year, 29 KISD students made the All-Region orchestra, an increase from last year’s 22.
Eleven of those All-Region orchestra members were selected to audition for All-State. Eight of those earned All-Area distinction, and three made it all the way to All-State.
This is the fifth year in a row KISD has student musicians in the state’s top scholastic orchestra.
All-State Orchestra honorees include junior violinist Hanah Kim, freshman violinist Rebekah Koh and senior cellist Wonhyo Lee. They are the largest group of KISD All-State Orchestra members ever in a single year. All are from Harker Heights High School.
“Being selected for the TMEA All-State Orchestra is an extremely difficult process and requires auditioning against thousands of other string players from across the state of Texas,” Gundersen said.
The three KISD All-State members will have a chance to perform at the TMEA conference in February in San Antonio.
Middle School Orchestra
The holiday strings event began with middle school performers, continued with high school groups and concluded with a grand finale featuring all groups.
Combined first-year orchestra members from six middle schools began with “Cha Cha Christmas” and “Jazzy Old Saint Nick.”
Mostly second-year middle school orchestra members, making up the combined intermediate orchestra performed “Deck the Halls” and “Ring Christmas Bells.”
The third-year advanced middle school orchestra performed “A Merry-achi Christmas,” “Andele Juana” and “The Yuletide Rag.”
Gundersen recognized 19 students who auditioned and earned spots in the TMEA Region 8 Middle School All-Region Orchestra.
The Holiday String Extravaganza concluded with all the high school and middle school orchestras – 500 musicians – performing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”