Orchestra Students Perform at Prestigious Events

Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Jones
Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Jones

Students from the Susquehannock Orchestra traveled to Susquehanna University to participate in the first ever SU Honors Orchestra with others participating in the York Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Freshman Tracy Slemp, freshman Weylin Kane, freshman Logan Trimble, sophomore Jacob Iwanowicz, freshman Bobby Wuhrman, junior Kristin Martin, sophomore Charlie Schaffer and junior Jaydon Sipe were the students selected to participate in the SU Honors Orchestra on Nov. 18.

From left to right, Zachary Levi, Jaydon Sipe, Kristin Martin, Jacob Iwanowicz, Logan Trimble, Weylin Kane, Robert Wuhrman, Charlie Schaffer, Tracy Slemp, and Andrew Jones pose for a picture after their concert at Susquehanna University. Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Jones

Slemp looked at this event as an opportunity to gain another musical experience under a teacher whom most of the high school students are familiar with, Zachary Levi, who was the previous orchestra director at the high school who transferred to Susquehanna University.

“I wanted to be a part of the group because I knew it would be a really good experience since I have done past honors band and orchestra programs,” Slemp said. “I thought it would be really cool to be in one of Dr. Levi’s orchestras again, knowing what to expect from in and how he teaches.”

Orchestra director Andrew Jones describes how a student would be able to get a spot for this orchestra.

“They are by nomination and recommendation,” Jones said. “I just put out a feeler to see who was interested, and they contacted me… and then I recommended their name to the festival, and they were chosen through that.”

Junior Jaydon Sipe, who has been in the orchestra since third grade, is grateful that the orchestra takes the initiative to practice their music and techniques both in their own time and at school, helping him to feel prepared for opportunities.

“Thankfully, I feel as if the orchestra practices enough as a whole in class and outside of class, even if they don’t spend time outside, but it definitely helps,” Sipe said.

Already looking into Susquehanna as a future college choice, this was one of the reasons that Sipe tried out for a place in this orchestra.

“This was also a college that I have looked into before, so I said [I] might as well try out for a spot,” Sipe said.

Slemp, after witnessing a girl with musical talent play, knew that this was something she wanted to be a part of, resulting in her joining the orchestra in third grade.

“I joined the orchestra because I was really inspired by this one girl who I saw playing the violin in a band, and I wanted to be just like her,” Slemp said.

Additionally to orchestra members going to the first ever SU Honors orchestra, students were also selected for another prestigious one, the York Youth Symphony Orchestra (

From left to right, Mona Ledbetter-French, Robert Rosul, Jacob Iwanowicz, Ian Rosul and Harrison Mabon stand together for a picture before their concert for York Youth Symphony Orchestra. Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Jones

The students selected for this were senior Ian Rosul, senior Robert Rosul, junior Harrison Mabon, junior Mona Ledbetter-French and sophomore Jacob Iwanowicz.

Whereas Jones had something to do with the SU Honors Orchestra, he has no affiliation with the York Youth Symphony (Y.Y.S.O).

“York Youth is a little more involved,” Jones said. “I really have nothing to do with it. The students go on Saturdays [to practice], and there is a big audition day in August… We actually had some students not make it, but we had students make it as well. It is a little more intense for York Youth.”

SU Honors was a one-day commitment, whereas York Youth practices every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at William Penn Sr. High School in York. Senior Ian Rosul shares that the commitment for York Youth can be a struggle at times due to other activities.

“During cross country, there were times where I would have to carpool with the other Susquehannock cross country members in Y.Y.S.O., Harrison Mabon and my brother, Robert Rosul, and drive ourselves immediately to a cross country invitational after rehearsal, or even miss rehearsal to go to the race,” Rosul said. “Luckily, students are allowed to miss a couple rehearsals as long as they have a valid reason, so the commitment isn’t too bad as long as you can wake up early on a Saturday.”

The audition for Y.Y.S.O. was done through a blind audition, meaning that the judges never see the auditioner and they are not allowed to talk throughout the audition. The audition consists of a scale, concept excerpt and solo. The solo piece focuses on highlighting the auditioner’s ability and is a two-minute selection of their choice. The judges grade them based on intonation, consistent rhythm, tone and musicality. The next section is the concert excerpt which is a passage from one of the pieces that the Y.Y.S.O. will play that year and is graded similarly as the solo piece. This helps the judges see the students’ ability to play in an orchestra instead of just their skills as a soloist.

When talking about how Y.Y.S.O. impacts him, Rosul has come to appreciate the music he is playing more and learning to love to play his instrument in a more meaningful way.

“I’ve definitely begun to appreciate how music affects me much more,” Rosul said. “Rehearsing for hours develops a good sense of focus and commitment to something challenging that is ultimately highly rewarding. Even beyond the joy of pulling off a great rehearsal or concert, I’ve learned to love playing my instrument more. Whether it’s the feeling of productivity and overcoming challenges in concert music or just the enjoyment of playing fun solos, it’s a great way to destress.”

Orchestra students perform at their concert for the York Youth Symphony on Nov. 18 at Eastern York High School. Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Jones

York Youth Symphony Orchestra has taught Rosul a variety of different techniques and skills, leading him to help the high school orchestra by being a role model and trying to implement them into the orchestra.

“Trying to be as good of a role model as possible in conduct and in playing ability, focusing on making every single note sound as clean and musical as possible, and emphasizing the importance of consistent bowings, dynamics, and articulations helps to make the entire orchestra sound better,” Rosul said. “YYSO has made me a better musician, and I hope that other students pick up on that and realize that getting better at playing is something that everyone can do as long as they practice.”

Getting to learn from different directors/teachers along with getting to meet new kids is a positive for the members who are involved in the outside school orchestra opportunities.

“[At] both places they get to learn from someone different from me which is also really nice,” Jones said. “They get to experience other kids from… multiple counties, and it is just a good way to meet other kids that are doing the same thing they are doing instead of the ones they are in school with.”

Jones sees these different events as an opportunity to become a better director and gather different techniques, so that he can apply them to the orchestra at the high school.

“…This is why I like going to these things,” Jones said. “I get to meet other directors, learn new things about rehearsal techniques or practicing techniques and then I get to hear other music that I might normally not pick in a high school situation.”

Enjoying playing their instrument and practicing it constantly will prove to set one up for success down the road.

“The most important thing, whether you are auditioning for any type of orchestra or not, is to enjoy playing your instrument,” Rosul said. “If you take lessons and get better, you will sound better and thus enjoy playing your instrument more. It’s a positive feedback loop that continues to make you a better player.”

Susquehannock’s orchestra and choir’s next concert will be on Dec.20 at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.