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Orchestra celebrates centennial with multigenerational concert

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:04 a.m. CDT
(Katrina Milton –
Orchestra Director Ken Tonaki leads a group of more than 250 musicians, composed of students from grades four through 12 and alumni, Thursday at the Sycamore School District 427 Orchestra Program's concert at Sycamore High School. The concert was held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the program's founding.

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore School District 427 Orchestra Program celebrated its 100th anniversary with a concert Thursday.

"We came across an old yearbook photo that showed that the orchestra was founded in 1914," orchestra director Ken Tonaki said. "The event tonight is celebrating 100 years."

The concert, which featured free admission and was held in the Sycamore High School main gymnasium, began at 7 p.m. with two traditional tunes performed by the beginning orchestra, followed by two songs by the intermediate orchestra.

The seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra and the middle school orchestra each played one piece.

The concert concluded with students from grades four through 12 and Sycamore High School alumni playing Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture." More than 250 musicians performed the work.

"This is the first time we've ever used alumni," Tonaki said. "It's exciting, but also scary to have fourth-graders through 50-year-olds playing. It's a little nerve-wracking, and you never know what to expect."

Caitlin Sherman was one of the Sycamore alumni who played during the orchestra's concluding piece. The music was emailed to her and she practiced on her own before the concert.

"It was fun to break out my instrument again," Sherman said. "I played in an orchestra in college, but only for one semester. It's nice to see other alumni again and catch up."

Fourth-grader Nathaniel Cabral practiced twice a week at school and also at home to prepare for the concert. His stepbrother and stepsister are also orchestra members.

"It's kind of scary to have the alumni playing with us tonight, but also fun," Cabral said. "Although I just started playing violin this year, I'm going to continue playing. My dad played the violin, too."

"Both of my sons are involved with the Sycamore music program," Deb Loitz, the publicist for the Sycamore Music Boosters, said. "Being part of the 100-year celebration is a great way for me to support the growth and success of the music program of the school district."

"Music concerts like this are good for both students and community members of all ages," Mary Mandigo, the grandmother of sixth-grade violinist Haley Trela, said.

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