Orchestra finishes year with LA festival, Spain tour

Minnetonka orchestra students gave several performances while in Spain, along with attending workshops, visiting classrooms and touring schools.  (Photo courtesy of Minnetonka Schools) Minnetonka High School orchestra students in Beverly Hills while attending a Los Angeles, California, music festival. The students won first place at the festival, competing against five student orchestras. (Photo courtesy of Minnetonka Schools)
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Minnetonka High School orchestra students in Beverly Hills while attending a Los Angeles, California, music festival. The students won first place at the festival, competing against five student orchestras. (Photo courtesy of Minnetonka Schools)

By Paige Kieffer
paige.kieffer@ecm-inc.com

The Minnetonka High School orchestra completed this school year, with three students going to All-state orchestra, receiving a excellent and superior rating at the Minnesota State High School League State Solo and Ensemble Festival for Orchestra, winning first place at a music festival in Los Angeles and touring Spain.

The orchestra has more than 210 students that participate in the program. The students are divided into four levels.

“Minnetonka High School is a very large school with over 3,000 students and being in orchestra allows students to be apart of a smaller and more family sized community within a community,” said Conductor Sarah Finn-Sommerfeld. “Students gain experience by working in a team setting. In orchestra we all work together to create music and this is another way for students to experience that collaboration. Orchestra is also a way for students to think differently and have a more hand-on approach to learning during the school day. It gives them a chance to be creative and express themselves through music.”

The orchestra students got to experience opportunities by performing nationally and internationally. Students perform at a national music festival annually and every other year students can participate in an international music trip.

From March 22-31, orchestra students in levels 1-3 attended the Heritage Music Festival in Los Angeles.

The students competed against five orchestras and received a gold rating and in first place.
Also this year, orchestra students toured Spain during spring break. The top-level symphony orchestra and the top band wind ensemble students attended the tour.

The students toured and had several performances in Segovia, Burgos, Oviedo, Valladolid, Madrid and Toledo.

Finn-Sommerfeld said the students received a multi-cultural music experiences during their tour and got to learn new music styles and instruments.

One of these experiences included participating in a music workshop where the students learned how to perform a Cajon drum from the Spain’s top drummer.

The students also visited a sister school in Oviedo, where they visited classrooms and toured the school.

In addition this year, three Minnetonka students were accepted into the MMEA 2017-18 All-State Orchestra including Saahil Chadha, Shelby Len and Claire Salmi.

Students also participated in the state orchestra festival where Abbey Schmitz received an excellent rating.

These students received a superior rating: Faith Johnson, Shelby Len, Ethan Johnson, Maeve Emery, RaeAnna Hahn, Priscilla Hagerman, Claire Salmi, Viktor Boris, Afton Aiken, Jihyun (John) Hwang, Gretchen VanEss, Anna Newell, Dylan Peters, Martha Barnard, Hannah Ditto, Hannah Dvorak, Aditi Jayashankar, Elise Johnson, Mackenzie Johnson, Raelin Karstens, Kathryn Lewis, Masha Petrosian, Mariana Rogan, Emily Schulenberg, Sophia Timba and Jessica Wang.

“These students bring a sense of joy and wonder everyday and it always inspires me as a teacher,” said Finn-Sommerfeld. “The level of creativity always blows me away and is invaluable. They also bring so much perseverance, hard work and the dedication to the program.”

The orchestra’s final performance of the year is 7-9 p.m. Thursday, May 18 at the Arts Center, 18301 W. Highway 7, Minnetonka.