Last concert joins Hickman and Rock Bridge orchestras together

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By Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Bitter rivalry raged this year with every competition between Hickman High School and RBHS — from the Providence Bowl to Twitter wars. But today, on this overcast evening, a group of students came together, not to compete, but to play. They wore no purple or green, donned no baby or bear costumes; Instead the girls wore long black gowns and the boys wore tuxes and bow ties and they all carried their sleek wooden instruments.

This was the only joint orchestra concert between the two high schools this year.

“We need more cooperation and less competition. Because the difference between a concert, even a joint concert between schools, and an athletic event, is that everyone goes home a winner,” Hickman Orchestra Director Margaret Lawless said. “There are no losers, and we all benefit from working together. … We’re all musicians together.”

And the joining couldn’t have happened on a more fitting night, for seniors this was their last high school orchestra concert. Together there were 15 senior musicians saying goodbye. Hickman senior Sean Brennan, violin player, said this emotion allowed his to connect to the pieces of music.

“I really try to get into what the composer wanted us to feel when we were playing and performing the music, so it depends on the piece, like with 1812 you really have to feel like you’re triumphing over something difficult, so I guess you can compare that to the way you feel about senior year,” Brennan said. “You can put your emotions of  getting through and finally finishing high school into those last few notes.”

Brennan said he will miss the community orchestra provides for him, but is excited for college in New York next year. RBHS senior Jashawn Linwood, bass player, said he too is sad to leave high school and the friends he’s made in orchestra. But he said the lack of rivalry between the two groups, and the support they give each other throughout the year, made this a proper last concert.

“It’s sad because you miss all the people you hang around … but at the same time it’s exciting,” Linwood said. “It’s sad, but it was pretty fun at the same time to get to play with Hickman.”

Christiane Quinn, mother of Hickman junior and cello player Yvan Quinn, said she loved the fullness that the larger orchestra brought to the pieces, and to see the evolution of the player’s skills from freshman to senior year.

“Suddenly [with the two schools together] you have a whole volume there, it’s so loud. I like it. I think it’s very nice,” Quinn said. “I like [seeing them on stage] a lot since [they’ve] played for a long time and you can really hear the difference on the ears.”

RBHS Orchestra Director, Jeanne Lambson, said it was wonderful going from 21 RBHS players and adding 32 more from Hickman because it made the sound so much louder. She said it was emotional for her though, too, as she said goodbye to her first group of RBHS graduates.

“I’ve grown to love them in just one year, and they are going to leave a big hole in the group,” Lambson said. “We’re just going to miss them and hope they come back and let us know how it’s going.”

Both Hickman and RBHS Orchestras honored their seniors with tokens of appreciation and  in turn the students presented their directors with flowers and hugs. And as the finale “1812 Overture” was played, and Kewpies and Bruins played side-by-side, and the Performing Arts Center was filled with the beautiful instruments, Lawless said she felt “humbled.”

“It’s an ecstatic experience to have this many wonderful student musicians in one place … it’s wonderful and it’s humbling, because I just feel so privileged to be working with these kids. Not just because many of them are so talented but because they are the future of what I love to do,” Lawless said. “They are so committed and they just love what they do, and that gives me a lot of hope and a lot of optimism. It is just a beautiful thing.”
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes