The Strake Jesuit-St. Agnes Orchestra: A Journey that Never Ends

Nathaniel Fernandes ’20

Dwayne O’Neal once said, “Music is like a journey that never ends.” As part of the Strake Jesuit-St. Agnes Orchestra, I am blessed to be a part of this journey in both the hard work of the ensemble and the exquisite performances of our outstanding orchestra.

The members that make up the Strake Jesuit-St. Agnes Orchestra are one big family united by their love for music. Throughout the school year, we take a unique musical “road trip” together, never knowing where the path will lead us. Even though it is hard to wake up and be at school by 7 a.m. each morning for an intensive practice, once we are there, everyone is happy and smiling. We all can’t wait to see our friends and make beautiful music together. It is incredibly rewarding to hear the melodious sounds we make together as a group after hours of practice.

Before we can get started on our journey – we need to prepare. This requires lots and lots of practice where the orchestra needs to learn how to work together as a team. Being the Concertmaster of Orchestra has taught me how to lead this team and utilize everyone’s unique skills and abilities. I realized that each section of instruments is incredibly valuable and essential to create glorious music! We are like a well oiled machine- without just one part we would all fall apart! Being a part of Orchestra pushes each of us to new limits and helps us discover parts of ourselves we never knew existed. St. Agnes Freshman Beth Athaide commented about her Orchestra experience, “Orchestra this year has really pushed my bounds as a player. Playing in the first violin section has made me a lot better at sight reading and playing harder music. I also had opportunities to play at a solo and ensemble competition, which encouraged me to work even harder in my private lessons.”

Along our orchestra journey, we have made long lasting memories playing at the numerous after school functions. We performed at the St. Agnes Styleshow, St. Agnes Gala, Strake Jesuit President’s Dinner, Strake Jesuit Open house, Sugar Land Ted Talks, and more. My most vivid memories from my entire time at Strake Jesuit have been from these Field Trips. On the buses to these performances, everyone is always laughing, singing their favorite songs, yelling out jokes, and making memories that will last a lifetime. As we all look back upon our high school years, being a part of the Strake Jesuit-St. Agnes Orchestra will always be a bright spot.

After all the practice and the “driving,” the orchestra finally reaches its “destination” in the end-of-the-year concerts and competitions. This year, all the hard work and dedication paid off and the Orchestra had one of its most successful years ever! Orchestra students performed in and excelled in TPSMEA All-State Orchestra in Dallas, TPSMEA South Region Orchestra, TPSMEA Solo and Ensemble, UIL Solo and Ensemble, and All-State Solo and Ensemble.

The Orchestra wrapped up its spectacular year with the Spring Concert, the final performance of the 2017-2018 academic year. Assistant concertmaster Edward Athaide said about  his favorite Spring Concert piece, “My favorite piece this year was the Florentiner March because it was not only very melodic but also fun to play since it required constant motion.” According to the Orchestra director, Mr. Guillermo Hernandez-Ching, “Our Orchestra Spring Concert featured the combined talent of each instrument section: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. We premiered two works that have not been performed before by any previous ensemble:  The introduction of the Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Ballet and 3 movements of Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite.”

Music is a journey that never ends. Throughout the year each of the orchestra members develop individually as the orchestra as a whole grows as well.