The Memorial Orchestra
A Heritage of Excellence
The Memorial Orchestra program has a long-standing heritage of excellence in making music. We now have five string orchestras as well as a symphony - which all perform regularly. The Memorial Sinfonia has been recognized as Texas' Honor Orchestra two times and the orchestra has performed concerts in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and four times in New York City's Carnegie Hall.
The Memorial Orchestra is comprised of approximately one hundred and forty-five students in grades nine through twelve at Memorial High School in the Spring Branch Independent School District. Many of these students began their string studies in Kindergarten in one of the various elementary Suzuki programs, while others joined the middle school string programs in the sixth grade.
Performance opportunities are abundant at the high school level. Annual events include a season of five major concerts, holiday concerts at the Texas Medical Center, Region and State auditions, the District Orchestra Festival, Concert and Sightreading Contest, Solo and Ensemble Contests, the school musical and a Spring Trip. In addition, the orchestra is active in the community, sending out various chamber groups to perform for inductions, banquets, assemblies, receptions and parties.
For several decades, the Memorial Orchestra has won consistent First Division ratings in UIL contest. They have been named the outstanding Orchestra at Corpus Christi's Buccaneer Festival as well as South Coast Music Festival. Recently, the orchestra has also performed concerts at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, Chicago's Orchestra Hall and most recently, a return to New York's amazing Carnegie Hall. This year - we will return to Corpus Christi - one of our students' favorite trips - for a stay on Mustang Island - location of our infamous version of the Iron Chef Competition.
The orchestra has performed twice as Honor Orchestra - state champions at the Texas Music Educators Association in San Antonio, and has placed many of its members in the prestigious Texas All-State Orchestras.
The orchestra membership is divided by audition into four distinct string orchestras and are conducted by Bingiee Shiu and Danielle Prontka. Each class is team taught and can be split into section rehearsals as needed. The classes meet daily for an hour and combine for one evening each week to form what we call BigMo – Big Memorial Orchestra.
Each year, the orchestra sets a major goal for emphasis in improvement in the area of music performance - as well as in character education. The goals for the past few years have included rhythm, small ensemble skills and tone production. This year, the orchestra is concentrating on REALIGN as it's musical goal and WHAT'S YOUR STORY? as it's character goal.
Approximately 80% of the orchestra's students enhance their learning through private studies, and in addition, the Memorial Orchestra represents a broad cross section of the student body. Its members participate in sports, service organizations, academic clubs and other fine arts. Many of our string players have been named National Merit Finalists, HOBY Award winners and valedictorian. Despite a tremendously busy schedule of academic and extra-curricular events, orchestra members remain a close-knit group who find time to socialize with each other. Typical events include a back to school party, a progressive dinner, the Sound Rally, various fund-raisers and a banquet at the end of the year.
If you would like to make a donation to the Memorial Orchestra, please click here. This will take you to the Spring Branch Education Foundation website and you can make your donation through them.
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