Introduction to Orchestra  

By Erik Chan, past President of Orchestra, 2014-16

            South Pasadena High School Orchestra is an award-winning string ensemble under the direction of Mr. Crawford. We generally rehearse during 2nd period, 2-3 times per week.  Afterschool practices are held for the annual SPHS Winter Concert and Spring Concert, and the Heritage Festival competition (Spring Trip) shortly after spring break. The Heritage Festival is held in various cities; in the past years, the orchestra has traveled to San Francisco, Seattle, and Hawai’i, enjoying consistent success at these events. Prior to the Festival and other concerts, we spend class time listening to, analyzing, and playing a variety of music, ranging from classical concertos to movie scores.

            Besides the festival, one of our larger projects throughout the school year is Spaghetti Dinner Night. Forming groups of four or more, we are given the freedom to pick a piece and rehearse for several weeks before performing in front of a live audience. In addition to helping us sharpen our performance skills, SDN serves as a huge fundraiser for the SPHS Music Boosters along with the monthly Bingo signups. Both the band and orchestra vice presidents regulate the signups to ensure an even number of volunteers from both groups. Everybody who signs up and shows up on time brings in more money to help with instrument management such as re-hairing bows and more strings and shoulder rests.  The student Bingo volunteers also earn credit they can use to offset the cost of the Spring Trip.

            In addition to these fundraisers, a group of around four musicians is arranged early in the year, forming our quartets that perform for a variety of hired gigs. As of last year, these ranged from background music for an awards ceremony held at the Masonic Lodge to advertisements for small businesses throughout the city.

            This year, we are hoping to implement some new ideas to help our orchestra further grow and develop!  The previous shortage of orchestra members is being solved by the establishment of the South Pasadena Middle School Orchestra this year.  All newcomers from the middle school are invited and welcome to ease into the school year with the Summer Orchestra Camp where we practice basic techniques, sight-reading, and get acquainted with team-building activities. Hopefully, with these new projects in mind, the SPHS Orchestra will become a second family to your musician!

Questions or Concerns?  

Contact our director Mr. Crawford through the High School website.

CONCERT ATTIRE: The following attire is expected at all concerts and the Spring Trip Competition: Boys– Black coat and slacks, white dress shirt, black bow tie, black dress shoes, black socks.  Girls– Black skirt must be calf-length when sitting, white long sleeve button-front blouse, black closed-toe dress shoes.

COURSE INFORMATION: Orchestra is an advanced instrumental music ensemble for string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). This ensemble studies standard, contemporary, and new string orchestra and full orchestra literature. Intermediate/advanced technical and music reading skills are required. There is an emphasis on stylistic interpretation, expression, phrasing, and compositional techniques. Course may be repeated for continuous credit. Prerequisite: previous musical training along with audition and/or teacher recommendation is required for enrollment. UC/CSU Approved for “F” Visual & Performing Arts (VPA).