Niles West Orchestra Finishes the Year With “Festival of the Orchestras”

Symphony Orchestra’s cellos plucking pizzicato.

By Jessica Palmer, Staff Writer

The spotlight shines bright as the orchestra takes the stage, ready to perform for the final time this school year. Orchestra Director, Natalie Frakes, takes the stage with the crowd cheering and the musicians stomping their feet.

The concert orchestra starts everything off with two pieces. This group is mostly composed of freshmen musicians. They play two unique songs with the second one having a large drum. Next, the philharmonic orchestra takes the stage to perform three different pieces, starting with “Winter Solstice” and “Blue Rhythmico,” which were wonderfully played. What really caught the audience’s attention was when they ended with the rock song, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. As soon as they started the beat, my head started bobbing along.

To finish the concert, the symphony orchestra filed onto the stage. Before they started their piece, Frakes had a special speech planned for the seniors. She called each senior to the stage, giving them a rose and telling the audience how long each have been committed to playing in orchestra—a way to celebrate their last high school orchestra concert. In return two seniors, Lili Sukenic and James Knott had prepared speeches to thank her for everything she had done for the program.

“I want to start by saying that Frakes is genuinely a caring and kind teacher who wants to see her students succeed and become strong and talented musicians; she wants to form relationships within the orchestra that we will keep for years past high school,” Sukenic said.

They talked about how Frakes helped reshape the orchestra program since coming to Niles West last year.

“Regardless of if we were playing Night on Bald Mountain or just eating lunch in the orchestra room, we all were able to appreciate playing alongside each other, especially with such a great orchestra director. With all the work she’s been doing to promote the Niles West Orchestra, it’s no surprise that we’ve been able to strengthen our community as an orchestra,” Knott said.

Sukenic mentioned how Frakes welcomed everyone and made them feel like a part of a community.

“You’ve done a fantastic job creating not only a safe place, but pushing us and challenging us to be better musicians together as one and separately. I hope you continue teaching and growing the young minds of these outstanding musicians who have performed tonight,” Sukenic said.

After the seniors took a seat, Frakes introduced the four movement pieces, asking audience members not to clap in between, but once it was all over. The first movement was fast-paced and exciting. The second movement, my favorite, was a pizzicato piece. The violins and violas played their instruments sideways, sometimes strumming like a guitar. I liked it so much because of how different it was from the other pieces played. The third movement was emotional and the fourth movement fulfilled the dramatic ending Frakes hinted at in the beginning.

The audience rose out of their seats and cheered for the final performance of the year. The orchestra will miss its beloved seniors but will continue to grow strong with the sense of community they helped create.