EL CENTRO — Southwest High School Chamber Orchestra musicians practiced their musical pieces Sept. 25 in preparation for their concert Oct. 4. 

“We are playing themes of movies and we’ll be projecting some clips of the shows,” said Matthew Busse, PhD., director of orchestras. The concert will be “Night at the Movies."

According to Busse, Southwest has a good orchestra program that not many people know about. Performing traditional concerts doesn’t draw audiences like a marching band or a SAVAPA dance.

“We need to spice it up to let people know that the orchestra has a lot of talented students,” Busse said during interview at the orchestra room where musical instruments were stored along the wall, and sheet music stands and chairs were stacked up on one side. 

According to Busse his orchestra class was responsible for preparing the concert program and the videos to be projected. “They really are enjoying the process.” 

Busse talks highly of his orchestra students. “These students are very dedicated. They love what they do. They are all intelligent students. They have taken AP classes. They grasp concepts right away and they are able to read music very well.” Because they have the ability to sight-read music, rehearsal times were reduced significantly, according to Busse. 

One of the musicians Edgar Landa, 18, is a senior and president of SWHS Chamber Orchestra. He started studying music in eighth grade with a viola, his first stringed instrument. Later, he switched to cello. 

About four years ago, Landa’s elder brother joined the orchestra. That inspired his foray into music. In his freshman year, Landa joined the chamber orchestra and has been a cellist ever since. It allowed him to perform in Chicago and San Francisco. 

About his instructor, Landa said, “He’s always pushing us to become better. He doesn’t make us strive for a high school level but rather like a professional level. So, he motivates us to do better. He is kind to us and makes jokes so that we don’t feel too tense about it.” Landa will pursue engineering in college. 

Being president helped him with time management according to Landa. In addition to his studies and AP classes, Landa helps organize the schools’ music library, handles the social media, and promotes the orchestra at different schools in the Valley. Furthermore, he ensures that the chamber orchestras’ project gets done, especially this coming “Night at the Movies”. 

Rosalynn Mananghac, 17, is another chamber orchestra musician who plays the violin. In fifth grade, she began studying music. Years ago, her father purchased a piano for himself but never had the opportunity to play. However, Mananghac became curious and toyed with the black and white keys to play tunes, like the Super Mario theme. 

In her first year at Southwest, Mananghac joined the philharmonic orchestra but the following year she transferred to the chamber orchestra. 

“The orchestra opened new doors for me. We were able to travel to Atlanta and San Francisco where we competed with different orchestras from around the nation,” said Mananghac, who plans to study oceanography or environmental science in college.

“He is strict with us,” Mananghac said of Busse. "In the end, it helped us because we were able to play concerts such as this one that the audience can enjoy. He did a really good job teaching us as how an orchestration works.”

Proceeds raised from the Oct. 4 concert will fund the students’ performances in Orlando, Florida and in Los Angeles. However, due to the prohibitive cost, only 15 students will be able to travel to attend the American String Teachers Association National Conference March 4-7, 2020, in Orlando. “The whole convention is about music education,” Busse said. 

"Presale tickets are $5, and $7 at the door," said Busse.

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