Over the weekend the Desert Vista High School Chamber Orchestra attended the 75th anniversary of the Arizona Music Educators Associations (AMEA), where 15 students were able to perform during the prestigious banquet.

The 15 Chamber Orchestra students were able to compete during the weekend banquet after submitting a video recording of their musical performance.

Some of the performances students participated in were in areas such as solo performances, a string quartet and ensembles, with five groups representing Desert Vista.

Dr. Darlene Wedington-Clark, director of Orchestras and Guitar Ensembles, said this year’s judging was done different from previous years. Students were asked to submit videos of their performances to be critiqued by a panel of judges.

Students across Arizona submitted their recording, and each video received a rating of superior, excellent or good.

“We set the expectations high. Since this is the Chamber Orchestra I expect them to do excellence. Part of our school theme here is excellence through performance, activities and academics. To be in Chamber Orchestra they are the top students in Arizona,” Wedington-Clark said. “They expect superior ratings when they go to competitions; it’s just what they expect out of themselves.”

Students who received a superior rating were given the opportunity to compete on Friday, during the tier two performances.

“All of last year we had superior ratings at every festival in Arizona, and we were the only school orchestra in Arizona to do that,” Wedington-Clark said.

Students were given a one-take opportunity to film their piece, adding pressure to the students to aim for nothing less than perfection.

Wedington-Clark said the process was a bit nerve racking for the students, but through the Chamber Orchestra program each student works under the philosophy of excellence and were able to shed light on their musical superiority.

Freshman Ryan Grieser performed during Friday’s tier two in both solo and quartet performances, with his musical instrument of choice being a viola.

He said it was a great experience to participate during the competition because it helped him as a performer, and he felt he had accomplished something great during his freshman year.

Linda Han, junior violin player, said it was an exciting experience having the opportunity to play in front of a big audience.

“We weren’t sure how we would do in this new tier two thing, but we did get some experience performing in front of our classmates during class time,” Han said.

Wedington-Clark also received high honors during the weekend, receiving the 2014 Arizona Music Educators Association Career Award and the Program of Distinction Award for Orchestra for her 25-plus years of being an educator in the field of music.

She was the first recipient of the Program of Distinction Award for Orchestra.

“I’m honored. I really am. I was notified in October and I just cried. It’s good to know that other people see what I do here and appreciate all the hard work that goes into making this program what it is,” Wedington-Clark said. “This is all of us. Without them we wouldn’t have an orchestra. It’s a dual partnership between myself and my students.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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