Orchestrating Success: Orchestra participates in UIL competition


Ensemble Encore • The KHS Orchestra performs their music during last year’s UIL performance evaluation. Photo by Lizett Garcia.

On Wed. March 8, the KHS orchestra went to compete in the UIL competition at Tyler High School. The orchestra worked hard to get their music ready for the competition and hoped to come back with great results.

“I’m actually really excited because I have been through a lot of stressful competitions,” senior Seleste Romero said. “I’m glad it’s going to be over, but I’m going to miss the atmosphere of hearing our results.”

The actual UIL competition consists of two parts: the performance evaluation and the sight reading evaluation. During the performance evaluation, the orchestra performs their music in front of a panel of judges who judge them on a variety of things including sound quality, dynamics, and technique.

“The most nerve racking part of UIL is playing in front of the judges,” sophomore Sophie Saxton said. “Although they are nice, they seem very intimidating. I also feel like when you’re on stage being judged, you are more prone to making mistakes because of the pressure.”

The music the orchestra performed this year came from several well known composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. Some of the music the orchestra performed included “Overture to Lucio Silla” and “Sinfonia.”

“We are playing a song titled ‘The Black Knight’ which is amazing because it has so much contrast in it because at the beginning it is slow, real slow, and then at measure ten it is twice as fast. It is also a very medieval vibed song,” freshman Shelbie Bailey said.

The sight reading evaluation then follows the performance evaluation. During this part of the competition, students are given seven minutes to learn a piece of music that they have never seen before. After the seven minutes are up, they must perform the music in front of a different panel of judges.

“Sight reading always makes me nervous because seeing a new piece of music for the first time scares me a bit and it takes me a second to understand it,” sophomore Holly Dowell said.

This year something in the sight reading evaluation changed: students are able to actually play their instruments while sight reading. In the past, students had to “shadow bow” which simply mimics what playing the song might be like but doesn’t actually produce any sound. With this rule gone, students are able to actually hear what they sound like before they play for the judges.

“I feel way more confident than the previous years of sight reading because of the new rule that everyone can play while we learn the music piece before we perform,” junior Ever Sweet said.

The orchestra has been preparing for this competition since January. They have been practicing their sight reading skills as well as polishing their music. Aside from practicing in class, students have also been taking their instruments home to practice.

“I have definitely been working on my dynamic levels and my bow control since it is something I struggle with most and because it is something that is very necessary in order to achieve a one,” freshman Kaylie Reyes said.

If the orchestra gets a rating of 1, a superior rating, on both the performance and sight reading evaluation they earn sweepstakes and get a trophy. Sweepstakes is the highest rating one can receive at the UIL competition. Last year the orchestra sent three groups to UIL, sub non-varsity, non-varsity, and varsity, and all three groups earned sweepstakes which is something that only Tyler Legacy High School had done before.

“My goal for UIL is definitely getting Sweepstakes because this is my freshman year of high school and it would be amazing to get Sweepstakes my first year in the Chamber Orchestra,” freshman Lauren Shaw said.

The KHS orchestra send two groups to UIL: non-varsity and varsity. The non-varsity group is the combined Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras while the varsity group is the Chamber Camerata Orchestra, the top group at KHS. Both groups plan to continue working towards last year’s achievements and earning a superior rating at competition.