Orcas music students win accolades at state contest

Submitted by The Music Advocacy Group.

The Orcas Island Middle School Strings group received a Silver Performance Award at the American String Teachers Association Contest at Western Washington University on March 11th this year. This is the first time this group of 7th and 8th grade students has participated in a State level competition. They performed onstage at the Performing Arts Center and were assessed by expert adjudicators. Students also listened to string groups as well as a performance by the Western Symphony Orchestra.

The following morning, the High School Strings students participated in the same event with 60 other high school string groups from across the state. They received a Bronze Performance Award. On March 21st, the 7th and 8th grade group took another trip, traveling to Whatcom Middle school for a regional orchestra event. Results are yet to be announced.

“The best part is how much fun we all had together, building relationships, hearing other groups play and seeing where we can go from here,” said Mrs. Pamela Wright, OISD String Director.

That same weekend of March 11th, the Orcas Island High School Band represented the district at the first-ever Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Band Invitational in Tacoma. They were one of 20 bands invited from across Washington state. Orcas student musicians performed three pieces at PLU’s Lagerquist Concert Hall and received an onstage clinic by the university’s music professors.

“We performed at 8am, listened to two high schools and a junior high and watched the PLU Wind Ensemble play an amazing set,” said Darren Dix, OISD Band Director. “These kids have been awesome with the long days. I’m so proud of them!”

As part of the overnight trip, students toured the PLU campus and Pierce College. The trip was funded by a grant from Music Advocacy Group’s (MAG) Joyce Burghardt Fund. Previous grants have provided conference and transport costs for exceptional music students to attend state and national music conferences like WMEA All State. This is the first time it has funded a trip for the full high school band.

March is ‘Music In Our Schools Month’ and Orcas music students and their teachers deserve applause for their resilience and dedication. In lieu of MAG’s traditional Spring concert, look out for a special video production—celebrating the school music program and all it has to offer— coming out in late Spring.

For more information about how to support music education in the public school here on Orcas Island, please visit www.OIMAG.org.