Friday, April 9, 2021 - 8:32 am

The District's orchestra program held a virtual Premiere Party on Thursday, April 8 to showcase the work students did with Mark Wood.

The virtual videos were made possible in part because of an Education Foundation grant. In attendance will be Mark Wood, his wife and performance coach Laura Kaye, movement coach Nathan Blake, and some of the video editors who worked on the project, along with as many of the performing students as possible. 

The 37-minute Premier Party and the four performances are available on YouTube:

Mark Wood Premiere Party

MHS Philomusica orchestra students: Imperial March of the Montagues

Glacier Creek-Kromrey 7th  & 8th grade orchestra students: Wizards in Winter

Glacier Creek-Kromrey 6th grade orchestra students: Hunters of Avatar

Glacier Creek-Kromrey 5th grade orchestra students: String Thang

The Foundation's grant allowed orchestra students in grades 5-12 to work virtually Wood, a Trans-Siberian Orchestra violinist, composer inventor of the electric violin, through the Electrify Your Strings Program. As part of the project, students learned a piece of music to record and create a virtual ensemble video recording.

The unit began in December with a virtual concert with Wood. He performed several of his famous pieces for students and families and showcased the many different versions of the electric violin he has created over the years. Students were impressed to see a glow in the dark violin and a violin that shot off fireworks.

In January, students worked with Wood virtually in sectionals to get tips on playing the music. Special sessions were also held with Kaye on how to create a stage presence and go outside your comfort zone and with Blake to learn choreography for the song.

To create the virtual ensemble video, students created video and audio recordings at home. Students also considered the story behind the piece and were encouraged to record B-roll film or supplementary footage to create a theme for the video. All footage was collected and sent to the Electrify Your Strings Program for final editing in February and March.

Students had many positive things to say about the experience.

"I just like playing with a famous musician. I also thought that it helped me excel in my music career." fifth-grade violist Morgan Dorsey said.

"I enjoyed watching myself get better, and seeing me speed up on the song. Also it was fun to ask questions to Mark Wood. And it was cool to see him play songs that he was so good at playing." fifth-grade cellist Grace Metz said.

"It was a bit of a challenging piece and I enjoyed getting to play really fast with the piece and all the different types of bow strokes and articulation." seventh-grade violinist on Wizards of Winter Shaila Holland said.

When asked what he most enjoyed, eighth-grade cellist Ian McGinley said, "Getting to play a genre of music that I hadn't played much before."

Fifth-grade violists Maddie Sprecher and Will Statz and fifth-grade cellist Treyton Varsho Mutert also raved about the project.

"I learned that I can do hard things when I set my mind to it,'' Sprecher said.