HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

Orchestra Plays Final Hauntfest Concert

Internal improvements are underway after COVID-19
Photo courtesy of Highlander Orchestra
Senior Dalton Burford, senior Iris Song, senior Justine Choi, senior Zeynep Akdora, Orchestra Director Matthew Epperson and senior Ceci Coale pose for a photo. The students dressed in costumes for their annual Hauncert which is a Halloween themed performance. “The Hauncert has been a super important part of my orchestra life since sixth grade, and while I’m sad to not be able to play in it anymore, I’m hoping that the young younger grades can keep the tradition going,” Choi said.

Because it was a Halloween concert, students were allowed to dress up in costumes. 

“It’s like not [a] traditional orchestra concert, it’s something particular to Highland Park,” violin player and junior Mediha Siddiqui said. “All the students dress up for the concert. I [was] Mickey Mouse.”

In addition to allowing students to dress up, the fall concert also offers an opportunity for the middle school orchestra to play with the high school.

“We have the middle school playing also,” Orchestra President Iris Song said. “So like from the beginning class all the way to the top orchestra class.”

This concert allows younger orchestra students to see where they could be in a few short years. 

“I think that’s a necessity that those eighth grade kids get to join a high school orchestra for at least one piece for a year,” Orchestra Director Matthew Epperson said.

Even though the traditional Halloween Hauntcert has been going on for years and years, this year was the last one. After years of quickly changing directors, in his second year, Epperson has decided he wants to take the orchestras in a different direction. 

 “We’re going to move into a traditional concert series from this point forward,” Epperson said. 

Epperson plans on doing away with much of the more “poppy” music in exchange for harder and more technical music. 

“I’m trying to take the orchestra in more of a classically-rooted technique instead of more of a poppy popular music technique” he said.

All of these new changes come as a product of the orchestra program rebuilding after COVID-19. 

“It cut down the fine arts programs a lot,” Song said. “It’s not just orchestra, it’s band and choir too, but orchestra got hit a lot. I want to basically bring structure and just improve it.”

The goal of this is to improve on the abilities of orchestra students and bring them to a new and higher level. 

“We have to start thinking of a more advanced repertoire,” Epperson said. “Now that we’re a 6A school, we are forced to play something called Grade 5 Literature and a lot of that pop stuff is sort of stuck in that Grade 3 oftentimes even Grade 2 Literature.” 

Orchestra competes on the individual level and on the concert level. One of the main individual competitions is All Region where students compete for spots in the All Region orchestra. This year, 26 orchestra members were accepted.

“When it was getting close to [All Region], [Epperson] would save like 10-15 minutes of class for us to practice our excerpts,” Song said. 

This is because for Epperson, putting effort into All Region is important because it raises the level of the orchestra’s individual players. 

“I think ultimately if you play the long game by having them prepare this level of repertoire and polishing it up with clinicians and doing sectionals, I think they end up better players as a result of it,” he said.

While this work is important, it has gotten in the way of practicing concert music. For the orchestra, this means a balancing act between concert music and region.

“We usually practice together for like two to three days of the week [for the concert] and one day would be independent practice because of All Region,” Siddiqui said. 

Even though Epperson will be doing away with the traditional Hauntcert, the orchestra will be working on internal improvements for the program. 

“I think [the orchestra’s] success will ultimately trump those feelings of yesteryear,” Epperson said.

About the Contributor
Elaine Engel, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? I'm looking forward to the incredible community of people and the constant opportunities to work on projects I’m passionate about What are your favorite TV shows/movies? West Wing, The Trail of the Chicago Seven, and Top Gun: Maverick Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why? I would love to travel to Machu Picchu because of the combination of a beautiful view and interesting history