On Saturday, 39 seventh and eighth grade students from Dempsey Middle School performed at the Ohio Music Educators Association’s District 10 Junior High Solo and Ensemble Contest held at River View High School in Warsaw, Ohio, and left with “excellent” and “superior” ratings in several divisions.
Seventh and eighth grade Dempsey Orchestra teacher Lauren Gruber said Thursday the school was represented by three cello soloists, five violin soloists, one bass duet, two string trios, one string quartet, as well as two string choirs of 17 students each made up from members of the Dempsey Players Orchestra, an extracurricular honor ensemble that meets weekly before school to rehearse.
Gruber said she’s thankful to the Delaware Music Boosters for giving students the opportunity to compete.
“Our Delaware Music Boosters organization was able to sponsor our students in attending the solo and ensemble contest by covering the entry fee for our Dempsey students,” Gruber said. “All students who competed received the highest honor of earning superior and excellent ratings. … We are so thankful to our Delaware Music Boosters organization for sponsoring this event for our students.”
Gruber said students had been practicing for the competition since January.
“Soloists and duet, trio, and quartet members prepared their solos and ensemble performance pieces largely outside of the school day,” Gruber said. “Many of our students work with private string teachers in the Delaware area, but not all students who competed work regularly with a private teacher. All students are members of their grade level orchestra at Dempsey Middle School and have put in the time outside of school to work on their competition pieces for performance.”
Gruber said she’s very pleased with the performances of the orchestra students, especially considering this was the first competition for most of the students due to the pandemic.
“(Fifth and sixth grade orchestra teacher) Abby Wimbiscus Black and I are so proud of the work our students put in to be able to perform a piece for a judge,” Gruber said. “For most of our students, this was the very first time that they played for an adjudicator. We are so proud of our students for putting themselves out there and getting out of their comfort zone.”
Gruber said she is proud of the students and hopes they appreciate how well they did.
“It’s a big deal for 12- to 14-year-olds to play their instrument for an audience alone or in a small group of their peers,” Gruber said. “Even though we had some students that were nervous, all of them played extremely well, and we are just so proud of their hard work.”
Additionally, Gruber thanked the private teachers of her students and the orchestra’s piano accompanist, Kay LaRue.
Gruber said the event was the final competition for the students, but they are hard at work preparing for several concerts next month.
The following events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at Hayes High School:
• The Hayes Orchestras Spring Pops Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 1.
• On May 11, the orchestras at Dempsey will hold their May concert. The sixth grade and Dempsey Players orchestras perform at 6:30 p.m., while the seventh and eighth grade orchestras performs at 7:30 p.m.
-On May 16, the fifth grade orchestras will hold their May concert. The orchestras at Carlisle and Schultz elementaries perform at 6:30 p.m., and the Conger, Smith, and Woodward orchestras perform at 7:30 p.m.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.