Saturday, May 05, 2007

THE CITY DESK - Rory Riddler

Getting The Best From Students
Starts With Teachers Who Care
Wednesday evening was the All-District Orchestra Concert at St. Charles High School. It was also a very moving surprise tribute to long-time orchestra teacher Mrs. Margaret Bush who is retiring at the end of this school year.
Approximately three-hundred parents were on hand for the musical performances of the combined grade school, Hardin, Jefferson, West and St. Charles High Orchestra members. From the plucked staccato strains of familiar tunes by the grade school virtuosos, to the higher brow sampling of classical renditions by the more finely tuned and confident upper classmen, it was a delightful and entertaining concert by some of the best and brightest of our St. Charles School District.
Just before the last number by the High School Orchestra, Hardin’s musical director Mrs. Veil announced that the students had something special to present to Mrs. Bush. At the appointed signal, forty-one orchestra members sprang from their seats and music stands to dash across the gym floor to each retrieve a single red rose.
They lined up in single file to present their tokens of appreciation to Mrs. Bush. Tied to each rose was a slip of paper on which they had written ways that Mrs. Bush had helped them to improve. Each rose was received with a warm hug from their teary eyed teacher, a heart-felt show of public affection not every teenage boy was wholly prepared for. The crowd was visibly moved as well by this demonstration by her students of their appreciation and gratitude for her years of service.
Mrs. Bush was ending her teaching career on a high note at several levels. The High School Orchestra this year received a one in regional competition and they walked away with a one at a music festival they attended in San Antonio, Texas. For those who may not know, a one is a high mark of distinction in such music competitions – the equivalent of making it to the State Basketball championships, but without the cheerleaders and the whole school getting out to watch you play.
Earlier this school year, with the help of a major fundraising efforts of many orchestra parents and members, Mrs. Bush brought famous instrumentalist Mark Wood to St. Charles High School to perform with the students. Mark Wood is one of the founding members and plays with the world famous Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
He has invented his own “electric” violins and brings a powerful sound, stage presence and showmanship to his upbeat performances. One of his missions in life is to make himself available to high school orchestra’s across the country for one day seminars, where he works all day with the local students and then puts on a first-class demonstration of all they’ve learned in the evening.
Mark Wood knew how to put fun into learning and the performance featured sounds and lights, comedy and choreography that are normally foreign to more staid or conservative orchestra performances. The end product was every bit as good as a top flight Las Vegas or New York revue, using high school students he had just one day to practice with.
Through Mrs. Bush’s efforts, the orchestra bought two of these electric violins and they were featured during the final number at the All-District Orchestra concert. They played Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. Not exactly what you expect to hear out of a high school orchestra.
In case you’ve forgotten a few of the words over the years:
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from ?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong ?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.
Look at him working. Darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
The gym erupted in thunderous applause to the stirring tempo and gave the orchestra and Mrs. Bush a sustained standing ovation. No lonely or forgotten people, but a celebration of a life where children and music mattered.