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Celebrating 100 Years Of Orchestra Tradition at Sycamore High School

Centennial Concert

A special Centennial Concert was recently held in celebration of the Sycamore School District’s Orchestra Program 100 year anniversary. The Orchestra program began in 1914, and has grown tremendously over these 100 years.  High School Orchestra Director Ken Tonaki along with Middle School Orchestra Directors Amy Tonaki and Melissa Marberry have been planning this celebratory concert since the beginning of the school year.

The Centennial Concert held in the High School Main Gym (because the Auditorium stage was too small) featured individual performances by the 4th grade, 5thgrade, and middle school orchestras. The special evening concluded with a combined performance of the “1812 Overture” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. All orchestra students from 4th – 12th grade gathered together and welcomed SHS alumni to be a part of this special performance.

As the gym was packed with audience members, over 240 string musicians filled the gym floor “stage” as they played this spectacular piece conducted by Ken Tonaki. Various Alumni returned from near and far (some traveled as far as Texas) for this concert reunion.For some, it was a family affair with parents and children performing together; for others it was a rare opportunity for siblings to share a music stand while creating music together; and for all it was an once-in-a-lifetime performance experience.

As Maestro Tonaki raised his baton, the crowd was silent, and the gymnasium was filled full of beautiful music. 18 double basses, over 50 cellos and almost as many violas, and the largest section of violins in the history of the school performed the “1812 Overture.” The part of the “cannons” firing was played on bass drums by retiring Music Teacher Bob Abel and Middle School Orchestra Directors Melissa Marberry and Amy Tonaki, along with current percussion students and SHS Alumni.As the last note was played, the orchestra received a well-deserved standing ovation! It was definitely an experience to remember. This performance is available to view on line at; found listed in the Related Videos section, titled “Elementary & Middle School Orchestras Concert.”

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