An Inside Look at Chamber Orchestra

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Sophie Brown

Junior Varun Mehrotra and Sophomore Austin Yang play the cello during “Bach Air on the G String.”

Sophie Brown, Bear Hub Staff

If you happen to walk by D22 period 12, chances are you’ll hear the soft dissonance of forty or so string instruments tuning, the air vibrating with wavelengths that unite for a millisecond before dissipating again. The notes rise from the rhythmic sawing of the bows and expand to fill the room, bouncing off the soundproofed walls. The noise immediately organizes itself when Dr. Gopal raises his arms, signifying the start of Bach Air on the G String.

The class begins conversationally, a surprising shift from the seriousness with which the students had warmed up. Dr. Gopal announces that the music for the Beethoven Symphony is up on Canvas, but not before proudly presenting his orchestra meme of the day that is projected on the whiteboard. The latest? A sheep pun that reads, “What is better than one baa?” before delivering its slightly dad-worthy, entirely adorable punchline: “Tubas!”

“Measure 34!” he calls, and every head in the room tilts intently to face the sheet music. He demos a scale on his violin, and the whole class follows suit as he claps and waves his arms perfectly in time, honing in on the tempo, rhythm, and style of each section.

The group is practicing in preparation for their October 27th performance, something Dr. Gopal emphasized at the start of the class. It is clear from one look that the students approach this deadline with the same diligence and passion that he does.

“I enjoy playing difficult repertoire and challenging myself with different styles of music,” says senior and violinist John Wang. “It’s so much more manageable and enjoyable because Chamber is a fun class with talented people, so we push each other to play better and can do more as a group.”

Senior Josh Redona agrees, “Orchestra has been such a great part of my life. It’s been such an enriching part of my high school experience, and to be able to make friends with so many people and play beautiful music with so many others… it’s an experience like no other.”