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RACINE — All five groups of young Racine Unified musicians that performed Saturday for Wisconsin School Music Association judges received top marks.

“I think it went pretty well considering all of us were pretty nervous,” said Horlick senior and bassoon player Caroline Konen.

The Horlick symphonic band was last to play at Park High School, 1901 12th St. on Saturday morning. Park’s concert band kicked things off at that morning, followed by three groups from Gifford School, the grades seven and eight string orchestras and the concert band and finally Horlick High School’s symphonic band.

Fired up about music

The Horlick symphonic band played a piece familiar to pop culture aficionados, “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff. The first act “O Fortuna” has been featured in numerous films, film trailers, television shows and video games. Most recently, it was featured in American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

“You cannot go wrong with that piece,” said judge Paul Hefner, who is band director at the Music Institute of Chicago. “Fantastic piece used in so many movies and they did an outstanding job.”

“It was probably one of the best time they’ve played it,” said Horlick instrumental music director Josh Sherman. “I always have really high expectations and I’m not willing to lower them. I find with these students if you push them and train them well they can do amazing things.”

After the performances, Hefner and the other two judges, Michelle Stauder and Peter Thompson, went to the stage to give notes and work with the musicians.

“It’s good to get different perspectives from professional musicians,” Konen said.

Park’s concert band played “Highland Echoes” and “American Riversong.”

Gifford’s grade seven string orchestra played “Geometric Dances” by Richard Meyer, an arrangement of “Take Five” by Paul Desmond and an arrangement of an African American spiritual called “Deep River.” The grade eight strings played “North Star to Freedom (in Honor of the Underground Railroad)” by Soon Hee Newbold, “Brook Green Suite, Movement III Dance” by Gustav Holst and an arrangement of “Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2” by Georges Bizet.

Gifford’s Grade eight concert band played “Dansbury Run” by Michael Sweeney, “Courage March” by Harold Bennett and “El Toro” by Chris Bernotas.

Hofner said he was also impressed by the younger groups.

“Best thing I could see is that they were fired up about music,” he said. “They want to play music, they were excited about it, a little nervous, but once they got over those nerves they did fantastic.”



Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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