Long before anyone cast a ballot in the presidential election last November, more than 70 students from the Berkley High School’s concert and symphony orchestras were already rehearsing for a competition this weekend near Washington, D.C. meant to coincide with the inauguration.
Four years ago, the orchestra captured first place at the Worldstrides Heritage Inaugural Music Festival and received the outstanding ensemble award. Two years ago in New York City, the orchestra also placed first.
Jennifer Alpert, a BHS senior who plans to attend the University of Michigan this fall, said orchestra director John Robertson makes the trips and performances a success. “He has a lot of confidence in us that we will do well,” said Alpert, a symphony orchestra violist.
Robertson, who splits his day between BHS and Norup International Middle School, said he hopes to achieve the same level of success this year. “I try to remind students of all the honors and awards we’ve received over the years,” said Robertson. “We have spent the past few months practicing very hard.”
BHS orchestra has been ranked in the top 10 percent of all high school performing groups in the United States, and will compete against more than 45 groups this weekend.
The BHS Chamber Ensemble, a combination of students from both the concert and symphony orchestra, will perform the first movement from Serenade for Stings by Edward Elgar, Andante Festivo by Jean Sibelius, and the “great” Fugue in G minor by Johann Sebastian Bach on Saturday, January 19th at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Maryland.
In addition to the performance and dinner awards ceremony, the orchestra’s five-day trip will also include stops at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and the Museum of American History, a guided tour of Arlington, a visit to Mount Vernon and other highlights.
On Monday, January 21st, students will have a chance to view the inaugural ceremony from the National Mall before heading back home on the bus. “I’ve never been to Washington, D.C. so I am very excited to see all the sights and museums,” said Alpert.
All students who participated in the Tag Days and Fruit & Nut sales fundraisers received a stipend from the Berkley Instrumental Boosters to offset a portion of the trip. A BHS Winter Orchestra concert is scheduled for Thursday, February 14 at 7 p.m. in the Berkley High School auditorium.