MHS Orchestra students get artistic

Maryville High School Orchestra students show off the Christmas ornaments they’ve been decorating and selling to raise money for a spring trip to Carnegie Hall.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Maryville High School Orchestra students show off the Christmas ornaments they’ve been decorating and selling to raise money for a spring trip to Carnegie Hall.

Maryville High School Orchestra members on Friday put down their instruments and picked up art utensils to create ornaments they are selling as a fundraiser for their spring trip to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Matthew Wilkinson, director of the Maryville High School Orchestra, was impressed by the students’ efforts and said everyone worked on ornaments and enjoyed pizza during the afternoon arts and craft session in the orchestra room.

“We spent three hours today and all the kids were making ornaments. The kids helped out a lot. They look like hand-blown glass ornaments,” he said.

At this point 105 orchestra members and 46 parents are planning to make the trip on three buses. “That’s $17,000 in buses,” Wilkinson said of the spring trip to play Carnegie Hall.

The group will leave on April 21 and perform on April 23. The opportunity for Wilkinson’s students to play at the legendary venue is also a big moment for the young teacher. “This is only my third year teaching and this is my first big trip. I want this to be something they will remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.

The students learned earlier this fall they were invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and they immediately began raising money to pay for their trip. In addition to the concert scheduled for April 23, 2011, students will enjoy three nights in New York, with visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Broadway - where they plan to see the musical “Wicked.”

Maryville High School was one of 13 schools selected to perform, out of more than 500 applicants. Reviewers representing the National Invitational Bands and Orchestra Festival pared the 500 applications down to 34 schools by listening to recorded performances. Based on the criteria and overall scores, the final 13 schools were selected.

At the two-day festival in April, judges will include Frank Battisti and Charles Peltz, director emeritus and director of wind ensembles, respectively, at the New England Conservatory of Music; Craig Kirchhoff, professor of conducting and director of university bands at the University of Minnesota; and Robert Reynolds, principal conductor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.

Anyone wishing to help students with expenses can make donations to the MHS Orchestra Carnegie Hall Fund and mail or deliver checks to the school office. Wilkinson can be reached at or by calling 865-681-2272.

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Comments » 1

mschmenger writes:

Now that the Maryville School district has received tremendous honor (invited to Carnegie Hall, one of 13 High Schools of over 500 candidates), the Music program in the 5th Grade has been eliminated and drastically reduced in grades 6-9 to every other day. So what used to take one year to learn will now take upwards of two years. What an impact this will have at a high school level!!! I would hope that the school board would want to retain this recognition of an excellent program. In order for these kids to maintain this level of performance they need to have daily instruction, even if its only 30 minutes instead of every other day.
After the city of Maryville and Maryville College invested into a performing arts center (Clayton Center), with the mind set that the High School will be able to perform and demonstrate their music ability, what will happen to the level of performance? What will happen to the ability to receive scholarships? What will happen to the music program at Maryville College who recruits students from our High School?