On Sunday, October 26, 2014, I walked from my hotel room to the NafME Honors Ensembles Registration with the help of the handy Gaylord Opryland Hotel map. After having walked past the indoor jungle, up two escalators, and past three coffee shops, I arrived at Ballroom C: Orchestra Registration, an enormous room lined on one side with music cases and on the other with tables where chaperones sat waiting for their students to arrive. After having confirmed my attendance, I went back to my room, went online, and applied to college. I’m not kidding. When I returned to registration, I was sent to retrieve my room key and went to my new room. I sat on the bed and I finally felt it sink in that I was in the 2014 All National Honors Orchestra.
The festival lasted from Sunday to our performance on Wednesday at the Grand Ole Opry House. We were conducted by the wonderful Gerard Schwarz as we played Shostakovich’s October Op.131 and Respighi’s Pini di Roma. We rehearsed over the course of the conference for an average of eight hours a day, but even when we were allowed to put our instruments down, no one really wanted to stop playing and people had their instruments out during our breaks either practicing or jamming.
It was like a music summer camp. Even though it was a lot of work, we did get to do certain activities and at night when we were done for the day. We got to see the Boston Brass perform one night as well as the US Army Field Band the next! Additionally, we got to participate in a mass scavenger hunt across the hotel which was so much fun!
That week was truly eye opening and the experience of a lifetime. I was the only student from Maine in the orchestra. I was thrilled to play music with such a diverse group of students with so much talent from all across the country. My roommates were from Pennsylvania and Florida and my stand partner was from North Carolina. We performed at noon on Wednesday, and I can remember standing under the spotlight and realizing that I was playing at the Grand Ole Opry! It was surreal! I will always remember the friends I made, and I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given in being accepted to participate and represent Waynflete and Maine during this wonderful experience.
Here is a link to an article on Elise that appeared recently in the Tri-Town Weekly.
Here is a link to an article on Elise that appeared earlier this year in USNOW.