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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Los Osos’ Music Program’s Outstanding Ensemble: Orchestra

Scarlet Vandegrift

With all spotlights on the Arts program at LOHS, one of the less popular groups is the Orchestra program. Conducted and taught by Band Director Solomon Encina, the Orchestra consists of 40 students with varying levels of achievement. 

The first class that houses LOHS’s Orchestra premiered in 2016 and Encina took over the music program in 2019. Since then, the Orchestra has doubled in size and is still growing in skill and student capacity. 

In an interview, Encina gave a single word in response to how well has the Orchestra improved over the years: vastly. “Orchestra has grown into something to be proud of,” he said. “And in some cases, something to be afraid of.” 

The Orchestra had five sections: First Violins, Second Violins, Viola, Cellos, and Basses. Seven students are in the First Violin section, fourteen students are in the Second Violin section, six students are in the Viola section, seven students are in the Cello section, and six students are in the Bass section. 

In terms of performances this semester, the Orchestra was able to perform three times before Winter Break, twice on LOHS’s stage and once at a local retirement home in Rancho Cucamonga. 

The Fall Preview Concert, performed on November 17, was a great success in audience numbers and accomplishment and grace in performance technique. The ensemble performed a total of seven pieces for families and friends, and each piece on the set list varied in genre, technical effort, and musical tone. 

From classical pieces to Appalachian hoedowns, each piece was performed with perfect precision and confidence. After the concert, the orchestra was showered in praise for their academic and performance strides in the first quarter of the school year. 

This preview performance was the first annual concert of hopefully many more. 

The Orchestra’s second performance of the year occurred at a local retirement center, Merrill Gardens. The class always looks forward to this particular performance because of the opportunities provided: encouraging and warm conversations with residents of the home and an annual In-N-Out trip. 

On December 8, after school, the Orchestra went to the Band Hall directly after school. To complete homework assignments and load the basses and cellos into the LOHS Music Program’s trailers. An hour after school ended, the class boarded buses and went to Merrill Gardens. 

Later in the evening, the Orchestra performed the same concert set they played at the Fall Preview performance with an added Hanukkah song, “Festival of Lights”, arranged by Bud Caputo. After the concert, the Orchestra reloaded the chairs, stands, and instruments, and was able to chat with a few residents of the retirement center. 

One kind lady, whose name I was not informed of, was overjoyed with the performance and thanked many students with a kiss on the cheek. Later, we found that the lady was 105 years old. She was so sweet and loving, and I thanked her for attending our performance. 

After loading the trailers, the ensemble was able to take a traditional picture of each section from the Orchestra, and then depart to In-N-Out for dinner. 

There, I was able to get interviews from the section leaders of the Orchestra while everyone was bonding with Encina and each other. 

The Orchestra’s concertmaster, and section leader of the First Violin section, is Senior Bryan Tan, who said, “I like playing music with the community.” In response to what is his favorite part about the class, Tan focused on his efforts to give back to the community through music. 

Junior Chloe Fung, the section leader of the Second Violin section, said, “It’s [Orchestra] the only time during the day where I get a break and can express my emotions through my instrument.” She and Tan teach the large violin section in the ensemble and make sure to be a viable support system for violinists in the class. 

Senior Brooke Ortega, the Viola section leader, said her favorite part of Orchestra is, “Collaborating with everybody, playing music with passion, and playing songs with everybody and making music and magic real.” Ortega leads the Viola section in the ensemble and is always there to help her fellow violists when they have questions or need help. 

Cello section leader Junior Lucas Fan followed the same efforts, and said, “It’s fun playing music, I love hanging out with my friends, and Mr. Encina is so much fun.” Fan speaks the truth about Director Encina. The majority of the students in the music program look forward to seeing Encina, as he is always a bright spot in their day. 

The Bass section leader, Sophomore Daniel Canon, also supports his section. “I love being able to observe the future of Orchestra… String instruments are just so much fun! The satisfaction you get when you make progress is incomparable to anything,” said Canon. This year’s Orchestra has six bass players, a special and rare feat, especially for a high school ensemble. 

All music students love what they do, and are always looking forward to their next rehearsal, their next concert, and their next leap to success in music. Thanks to Band Director Encina, students have a safe place to go to every day. 

The Orchestra of LOHS succeeds with precision and is growing still. I can not wait to see how far this group of students is going to go this year and am so proud of this ensemble in the music program. 


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