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  • Maia Riggs

Choir and Orchestra Perform at Orlando Music Festival

Orchestra and choir students at Universal Studios last month / Credits: Christopher Alberts

The School Without Walls music department headed down to Orlando, Fla., March 15- 19 to compete in the OrlandoFest music festival.

The choir and band came home with first and third in the “superior” bracket of competition, and the orchestra received second place in the “excellent” bracket.

The event was the music department’s first trip to Florida since 2020, just before the pandemic.

Music teacher Christopher Alberts, the orchestra and band leader, said the trip went according to plan. “I think that the students did a great job, [and] the trip overall was really well organized,” he said.

The 64 students who went on the trip flew down to Orlando on Wednesday morning and spent the next few days exploring the amusement parks at Universal Studios.

“The competition itself is a three-day competition, but we don’t have any control over the performance schedule,” Mr. Alberts said. “This year was actually the first year that it ever occurred that we were the last groups performing in the competition,so we didn’t go until Saturday evening.”

Though the amusement parks were fun, many students said the experience tested their patience. “There was a lot of waiting,” Lucy Byron (‘25) said. “Even at this time of year, it was really packed, and some of the waits could take two or more hours.”

Xavier Miller (‘25) and Lily Turcotte-Keen (24’) agreed. “The parks were super fun, but the lines were so long. But it was fine because you could talk to each other in the lines, and make friends with the other people around you,” Turcotte-Keen said.

The trip had a per-student cost of around $1,200, though some students received financial aid. The music department had two fundraisers beforehand, a popcorn sale and a pizza-making class.

Outside of fundraising, the preparation leading up to the trip was also difficult musically. Most of the band and orchestra were just recovering from playing in the drama department’s “Cinderella.” Participating in the musical was a multi-week venture that resulted in many orchestra members missing school for rehearsal.

“We were coming off of the musical, so it was a very busy winter for us,” Mr. Alberts said. “In hindsight it would have been planned differently, but the kids rose to the occasion and did a great job.”

Though the weeks before the trip may have been chaotic, most students thought that it was a great experience overall. “My favorite part overall was making new friends, and the time that was spent chatting and laughing in hotel rooms,” Turcotte-Keen said.

The competition aspect of the trip went very well, with the choir receiving an incredible first place win. Orchestra and stage band also did well, coming home with second and third respectively.

“Although I didn’t think we were going to get first place, we showed up and we did really well,” Annika Smith (‘25) said. “Just go look at the trophy downstairs.”


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