Four students represented Milbank at the South Dakota Middle School All-State Orchestra, performed at Rapid City Central High School on February 21-22. Nicholas and Veronica Fonder, children of John and Sandra Fonder, were first-year members of the orchestra. Rachel and Joseph Schulte, children of David and Elizabeth Schulte, were recognized at the concert for being three-year members of the orchestra.
The string orchestra was comprised of 64 members representing sixteen schools across the state. These students were selected from approximately 160 students who submitted video auditions in November. They were notified of their acceptance in December and had approximately one and a half months to learn some very difficult music. The program featured works by British, Argentinian, Asian and American composers, including a work by Dr. Stanichar. A joint rehearsal and question-answer session with the High School Honors Orchestra was a highlight of the weekend, which included approximately twelve hours of rehearsal and a concert.
Reflecting on the experience, Veronica said, “I liked the challenge of learning more difficult pieces and hearing them come together with the entire orchestra.” Nicholas said, “When you just practice one part of the music, you don’t get the full sound. The orchestra made the music sound complete. This was a great experience and helped me to improve my violin playing skills.” Joe said he was honored to sit at first chair and “liked being so close to the conductor.” Rachel enjoyed performing the concert and “having more kids from Milbank this year.”
Dr. Christopher Stanichar, professor at Northern State University and conductor of the Aberdeen Civic Symphony served as the conductor. Elizabeth Schulte, director of Whetstone Valley Strings Studio in Milbank, directed the first violin section and attended the string teachers’ symposium.
Suzanne, Jacinta, Joselyn, and Robert Thompson, relatives of the Fonders who live in Rapid City, also attended the concert.