Playing for the play

Listening to fellow players. Watching the conductor. Keeping in time with the singing actors. Playing in the orchestra for an opera involves multi-tasking to make sure that the piece is played correctly.

Freshmen Amber Tsao and Melody Yu both played the violin in the orchestra for the abridged “Hansel and Gretel” opera arranged by Sarah Danielle on Nov. 13. Their violin teacher and concertmaster of the performance, Tatevik Yaghubyan, invited the two to play in the orchestra.

“I really like playing in an orchestra because it’s a pretty cool environment, [since] the actors are singing their parts on stage while we play,” Tsao said. “Before the performance, I thought it would be really scary, but it was actually a very fun and great experience.”

The orchestra had three rehearsals with the entire cast and on Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and Nov 12. Tsao and Yu also met several times in between the official rehearsals to practice the pieces with their teacher.

“I didn’t practice that much for the performance because I felt pretty ready. So I just played it through a few times to prepare for the performance. I usually feel really nervous during performances, but this time I was mostly excited instead of nervous,” Tsao said.

During the opera, Tsao and Yu played a variety of pieces in the opera including: “Hansel and Gretel Overture,” “There was a Little Man,” “The Scent is Delicious,” “Hocus Pocus.” Tsao and Yu’s duets were “Tap, Tap, Tap” and “Little Sandman Theme.”

“I felt happy and satisfied being able to play with the opera singers and to create opera music. It was a really unique experience, kind of like we were telling a story,” Yu said.

They struggled with not having enough time to practice the pieces, since they had to learn them in less than a month. However, the performance helped to improve Tsao and Yu’s sight-reading skills and ability to match the pace and rhythm of the singers.

“I enjoyed being a part of it because during the performance, it was interesting to hear the voices of the actors blend together with our music, and it was also fun seeing the audience smile and laugh after the performance,” Yu said.

By Irene Zhou, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Amber Tsao

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