Five high school orchestras participate in String Day

By Jessica Cabe

The School of Music strung some potential students along Thursday.

But deception was hardly the program’s aim.

Five high school orchestras filled Boutell Memorial Concert Hall with their best sound. The performances were just one part of String Day, an event from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Recruitment is one of the major reasons for hosting high school clinics. Programs and schedules for the day were available alongside information pamphlets and folders from the NIU School of Music.

Laci Gorman, freshman violist at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School, said that while college still seems pretty far away for her, events like String Day would definitely encourage her to consider NIU.

The day-long event began with a concert and subsequent critique from Lucia Matos, coordinator of ensembles and director of the NIU Philharmonic Orchestra. Each orchestra had 25 minutes to perform and run through notes with Matos, who brought a contagious energy to the stage.

Matos provided gentle constructive criticism, putting the performers at ease in a potentially high-stress situation. There was a noticeable difference between the original performances and the playing after her critique.

Gorman said String Day was her first college clinic. She said the critique from Matos was a valuable learning experience.

“We went up on stage and performed two songs,” she said. “They had us trying to play more as a group. She had us sing our parts.”

After the performances and group critique, the orchestra members had a lunch break before a half-hour performance from the Avalon Quartet.

The Avalon Quartet is the professional in-residence quartet at NIU, which means they perform in DeKalb and Chicago as well as teach chamber music at the university.

The final part of String Day was the hour-long master class sessions. Players of each instrument in the orchestra had the opportunity to meet musicians from other high schools and learn about their particular instrument.

Beneath all the recruitment devices, the true purpose of clinics such as String Day is to enrich the musicality of high school students and provide fresh insight into the music.