Band and orchestra combine in first ever symphony

Natasha Janssens, Staff Writer

Back when all students were learning remotely, Band Director Nicholas Thomas and Orchestra Director Penny Meitz first talked about holding a combined band and orchestra group. At the time, they were the only fine arts teachers on campus. 

“We spent a lot of time talking about our dreams for the band and orchestra programs,” Meitz said.

On April 5, Meitz and Thomas invited members of Philharmonia, Chamber Strings and Jazz Band to play in this full orchestra. The group played “Dance of the Tumblers” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, both pieces arranged by Sandra Dackow.  Since there were only nine band players, each of them played their own part.

“It has been fun showing them how much their contribution matters,” Thomas said.

The winds rehearsed separately three times and the string ensemble rehearsed separately twice before combining on April 20. On April 30, they recorded the piece, and on May 5, the video was released.

“One of our main goals was just for this to be a fun thing to do,” Meitz said.

Due to COVID restrictions, not everyone in the orchestra and band program was able to participate in the performance, but Meitz and Thomas will likely offer a combined band and orchestra ensemble next year. The directors are excited to see the level of interest among players.  

“This project gave us a chance to hear some of the best instrumental music St. John’s has to offer,” Thomas said. “I look forward to partnering with Ms. Meitz and the Strings students many times in the future.”