Bell orchestra worthy of a standing ovation

Bell Middle School’s Chamber Orchestra honored at annual conference

Posted 2/6/19

Bell Middle School’s Chamber Orchestra rose to the occasion for its big performance at the Colorado Music Educators Association’s (CMEA) annual conference. So much so that the audience applauded …

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Bell orchestra worthy of a standing ovation

Bell Middle School’s Chamber Orchestra honored at annual conference

Posted

Bell Middle School’s Chamber Orchestra rose to the occasion for its big performance at the Colorado Music Educators Association’s (CMEA) annual conference.

So much so that the audience applauded them with a standing ovation.

“They played with passion,” said Barb Casanova, Bell Middle School’s orchestra teacher. “I loved seeing that.”

The conference took place on Jan. 25 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Bell’s Chamber Orchestra, which consists of 29 eighth-graders and one seventh-grader, was one of two middle school orchestras selected to perform at the event. It was chosen out of 132 orchestras from across the state that submitted applications and recordings for consideration to perform.

Sophie Anderson, an eighth grader who has been playing the viola for four years, had been looing forward to the CMEA performance for a long time.

“I feel like I got progressively better” leading up to it, she said, “and we (as an orchestra) got to showcase everything we’ve learned.”

Anderson’s sister Isabel, also in eighth grade, who has been playing bass for four years, agreed.

“We probably played the best we’ve ever played,” Isabel Anderson said.

The pressure and nerves that go along with playing in front of a large crowd probably have something to do with that, said Josiah Branham, an eighth grader and who has been playing cello for five years.

“The pressure helps me get into it and play my best,” Branham said.

Much of the audience at CMEA consisted of professional musicians, and one of them was Cameron Law, who composed one of the orchestra’s pieces that they performed.

“He was smiling the entire time,” said Annika Waples, an eighth grader who has been playing the violin for nine years. “I thought that was awesome because he intended the piece for high schoolers.”

Because of her 20 years’ experience teaching music, a lot of the orchestra’s success can be attributed to Casanova, said Michele DeAndrea-Austin, Bell’s principal.

“Barb holds students to the highest of expectations without backing down,” DeAndrea-Austin said. She “compassionately inspires them to not just play the notes on the page, but to bring the music alive for the audience.”

Casanova’s students agree.

She has high expectations, but they’re all for the orchestra’s best interest, said Teegan Meyers, an eighth grader who has been playing violin for five years.

“Coming to orchestra (class) doesn’t feel like school,” Meyers said. “It’s relaxing and fun, and practicing as a whole orchestra makes it even more fun.”

Casanova said she’s “extremely proud” of not only her students’ performance at the CMEA conference, but their accomplishments overall, describing them as an “exceptional” and “professional” orchestra.

“Whether they pursue a career in music or not, being a part of orchestra enhances their life,” Casanova said. “And it’s not just the skill of playing music, but also the discipline and teamwork that they learn.”

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