By Lucy Liu

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Hustling in before the start, waiting for the lights to dim, hushing as the musicians walk on stage. The audience was full of anticipation after a week of hearing tidbits of what will be performed at the winter concert. At the end, a roar of applause filled the room as the audience was astounded by the talent presented from all of the performances.

It was the first time UHS Orchestra program performed its winter concert with festive decorations and multiple collaborations.

With a Nutcracker theme, the stage was filled with holiday decorations, done by the Orchestra Student Organization, and each of the four orchestras performed songs from The Nutcracker. Even a week before, orchestra members were publicizing their event.

“I am really looking forward to collaborating with the other music programs that we have at this school,” Symphony Orchestra Violinist Gelina Linsangan said. “We have never done this before. It’s kind of exciting.”

Pieces played really embodied the festive holiday spirit. Some compositions included Dance of the Reed Pipes, A Mad Russian’s Christmas Trepak, and the Home Alone Suite.

Each person has his or her own experiences and opinions; that applies to the UHS Orchestra program as well. At University High School, there are three different orchestras divided based on skill: String, Concert, and Symphony. Three individuals, Yasaman Lorkalantari from String Orchestra, Yuki Yamazaki from Concert Orchestra, and Raina Zhao from Symphony Orchestra, all have their personal experiences and expectations of the music program.

Only joining String Orchestra in the second semester in freshman year, Yasaman Lorkalantari worked hard to keep up with all the other musicians. This year’s concert was her first winter concert at University High school.

“I had a lot of fun and orchestra helped me relieve stress,” violinist Lorkalantari said. “I got to know new people and I felt comfortable there.” Many people agree with Yasaman; orchestra is like a second family.

“I was so excited to show everyone the collaborations,” Lorkalantari said. “It’s the first year orchestra has ever had collaborations with choir and band.”

Although String Orchestra is the lower level orchestra, all of the students work hard and have high expectations of themselves.

“Symphony is inspiring,” Lorkalantari said. “Music is their life.”

Yuki Yamazaki is in a similar boat as Yasaman. He wasn’t able to join orchestra freshman year, but this year he auditioned and got into Concert Orchestra, the middle tier orchestra. This year’s Nutcracker themed concert is also Yamazaki’s first winter concert at University High.

“I wish we had more dress rehearsals [with the other programs],” Yamazaki said. “But despite that, we did great.”

“The most fun experience I had with orchestra was the bonfire at the beach,” Yamazaki said. “I got to meet new people and orchestra is a great place to connect with other grade levels.”

A fanatic of the violin and music since elementary school Raina Zhao has continued into high school and is now part of the highest orchestra, Symphony Orchestra. However, she did not start high school in this orchestra. As a freshman last year, she was part of Concert Orchestra, but with enough practice, she joined Symphony. Similar to the aforementioned musicians, this is Zhao’s first time performing a winter concert with Symphony Orchestra.

“This year’s concert featured more people and added an interesting element to the performance,” Zhao said. “I was excited to present our work to the audience and I think they enjoyed it.”

Zhao is so dedicated to orchestra that she will also be part of the instrumental for the next musical at University HS.

“I like playing music in a group,” Zhao said. “But there’s just something different about playing in an ensemble.”