City High Orchestra Collaborates with Local Schools for Virtual Performance


Sophia Wagner

Art by Sophia Wagner

Ruth Meehan, A&E Editor

The COVID-19 shutdown has forced artists to become creative in how they share their skills and their craft. Here at City High, most ensembles haven’t had live performances since February or March of 2020. This includes the City High Orchestra program, which had their last live performance on March 4th at their annual Dessert Concert. This large obstacle hasn’t stopped the City High School Symphony Orchestra from getting to share their music with others. City High School teamed up with Liberty High School, West High School, and the Preucil School of Music to virtually perform Corelli’s Concerto VIII.

City High Orchestra director Megan Stucky-Swanson said the collaboration with the other schools was a fun experience. 

“The collaboration with West, Liberty, and Preucil has been fun! We have been able to share ideas, come up with a plan of action, and help each other troubleshoot,” Stucky-Swanson said.

Doing an entirely virtual performance was new territory for students and teachers alike. Adam Zeithamel ‘23 plays cello in the Symphony Orchestra and had experience recording music before the collaboration with the other schools. 

“I have had to record playing assignments for orchestra, my All-State audition, and some other auditions over the summer,” Zeithamel said. “The recording process is never fun. I think I spend more time fighting with technology then I do actually playing what I am recording.”

Like most things, recording has its positives and negatives. Zeithamel says that the positives definitely do not outweigh the negatives.

“It is nice to have multiple takes when recording but at the same time, you start to expect perfection from yourself,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like an audition or performance where you have a little bit of fall back like ‘Oh I missed a note’ because that will happen. When I am recording I feel like I have to be perfect. Even though a recording might come out better than a live performance or audition would I feel worse about my recording then I would after something that is live.”

Students who were in hybrid had a chance to rehearse this piece in person before they moved to fully online instruction. Stucky-Swanson said this was her favorite part about working on this project. 

“Working on the music in person before we went 100% online has been my favorite part of this project;” she said. “Making music together is so powerful. But also learning the technology has been very valuable and I look forward to implementing more of it in my lessons in the future.”

Even Zeithamel who has experience recording music had issues with technology during the process.

“I understand that a lot of people are trying very hard to make this work and make it as easy as possible but it doesn’t work smoothly. The guide tracks are hard to follow, band lab where we record our track is hard to navigate and sound issues can occur when using technology. It was problem after problem,” said Zeithamel. 

Even though the recording process can be tricky, Stucky-Swanson says this experience is beneficial for students, especially during this unprecedented time.

“As musicians, we have a gift and a duty to share those gifts with the community,” Stucky-Swanson said. “Music brings people together and being able to make music ‘together’ from across town from the comfort of your own home to create a tangible piece of music to share is an incredible opportunity”