Breaking barriers from below the stage
Although you may not be able to see them, you can definitely hear them. Performing under the feet of drama, dance and choir, pit orchestra plays the tunes that accompany school musicals.
It is unseen, but its performance is just as important as the people on the stage above them. In order to sync with the actions of the performers above them, pit orchestra must execute flawless performances that are exactly on time.
In February, players dedicated their first periods and Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m. to rehearse for the Spring drama production, “Mary Poppins.” As the date of the play came closer, members of pit orchestra had to give up more of their time to practice. Beginning in March, rehearsals extended from Monday through Thursday and the week before the play started, rehearsals were everyday after school until 6 p.m along with Saturday rehearsals.
“It takes a lot of dedication and organization. I have to plan my schedule ahead of time, but it helps that the directors give us a schedule of the rehearsals ahead of time,” percussion player senior Verenna Denina said.
Pit orchestra differs from other ensembles such as advanced and intermediate orchestra or wind ensemble because it is limited by the number of instruments and people who can participate. As of now, the pit orchestra has 20 volunteers with a maximum of two players to one part, meaning that most performers are soloists.
“I chose to join pit orchestra because I had done it the last two years and the music always seemed like fun and most people in the pit and on stage are fun to hang around,” flutist senior Alex Cichoski said.
In addition to playing the music, members interact with the director, Mr. Cory Wicks, the cast members of the production and also the technicians. The performers, at the directions from their director and in coordination with the onstage performers, need to adjust their microphones, lights, and queues in order to create a seamless transition into each piece that they play.
“Pit orchestra doesn’t just simply play music but work with the cast members and I think it adds more feelings and interesting moments to the setting and the scene going on onstage,” cellist sophomore Sunnie Chou said.
During Open House on March 2, parents and students were given a sneak peek to the production, Mary Poppins.
“I already enjoy playing and performing very much, but I also think that the musical showcases the performing arts program, not just band and drama, but choir and dance too. It’s amazing to be part of the final product,” Denina said.
By Brian Wu, Staff writer
Photo by Airi Gonzalez