MHS orchestra students team with Buffalo

Monticello High School orchestra students will team with the well-respected Buffalo Community Orchestra next month to form a 150-person performance of the well-known William Tell Overture.
This is the first joint venture between the two groups and an opportunity for local orchestra teens to perform alongside seasoned musicians and a doctoral-level conductor.
The Buffalo Community Orchestra is 70 members strong, and their volunteer musicians come from Buffalo, Monticello and other towns throughout the area and the wider metro area.
Former Monticello school board member Jeff Burns is the orchestra’s president, and he said their musicians range anywhere from age 16 to 75 years old. The Buffalo Community Orchestra formed back in 1994 and attracted musicians from many different areas under the leadership of Mary Ellen Lundsten, whom Burns said continues to support the organization in many ways. “I know we have many good string musicians here in Monticello [high school], and I thought it would be an exciting opportunity for them to play with a pretty good orchestra,” Burns said of the partnership.
Monticello students have the opportunity to join the orchestra as sixth graders, and Burns said over 75 percent of middle school students participate in the music program on some level, either in the orchestra, band or choir.
The orchestra option is the most recent addition of the three. It began at the middle school level in 1999 until the program was built up enough to form a high school program.
Former band director Doug Miller playing a key role in forming and building both programs. Having a school orchestra allows students the opportunity to delve into stringed instruments such as the violin, viola, cello and bass.
“It’s great, because last year we had 65 students in orchestra, and at the beginning of this year we had 85,” said Kari Peterson, who is the high school’s orchestra director. “It was a really large freshman class and a lot of kids continuing on into the year.”
The two groups will perform in Monticello at 2 p.m. March 3 in the Monticello High School’s performing arts center. Besides the William Tell Overture by Rossini with MHS students, the Buffalo Community Orchestra will also perform Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet and Bruch’s Concerto No. 1, featuring violinist Julia Reeves who is the concertmaster and a master’s student at the University of Minnesota.
The Romeo and Juliet number is one that audience members will widely recognize, said Peterson. In fact, the song is currently being used in advertisements for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread. With enough applause, the orchestra may also play one other piece, Burns said.
In addition to the March 3 performance, there is also a performance at Buffalo High School at 7 p.m. March 2. Concert prices are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $3 for students.
Erik Rohde, a violinist and doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, will conduct the upcoming concert.
“There aren’t a lot of opportunity for adults to perform music, especially stringed instruments, and this is one rare opportunity,” Burns said.

Freelancer Meghan Gutzwiller covers education and the Monticello School District.