EDINBURG - South Middle School’s symphony orchestra is the Valley’s first orchestra to travel to Chicago, Illinois to perform at the 73rd annual Midwest Clinic.

The Midwest Clinic is the world’s largest international band and orchestra music education conference where for the first time in Rio Grande Valley history, a middle school symphony orchestra was selected to play at this prestigious event.

“Our symphony orchestra was selected to play at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago after submitting a recorded performance,” said Cassandra Sanchez, SMS band director. “We had to reach certain requirements in those pieces and we got selected through that recording.”

Because of the huge accomplishment achieved by the middle school’s musicians, they hosted a 5K color run, Saturday, Sept. 28 to help fundraise the trip’s expenses but still needs a ways to go.

“We had about 200 partipants in the 3.1 mile race where they were welcomed to run or walk,” said Angeline Rivera, SMS volunteer and parent of Danica Rivera, a band member of SMS. “We wanted to do a color race as part of a family activity as opposed to a competitive environment,” she adds.

The goal for Saturday’s fundraiser was set at $5,000 dollars and will continue to hold different fundraisers until the middle school’s performance month, December as the trip requires $80,000 dollars. The symphony orchestra will take a total of 82 students and 10 chaperones visiting Chicago from Dec. 17 - Dec. 20.

The students performance day will take place Friday, Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. and will play a total of seven pieces, two of which were commissioned for the middle school.

“We have two pieces that were composed for us by Brian Balmages and Mike Miller,” said Sanchez. “In Balmages’ Ariabian Dances, you’ll hear an ariaban drum feel and it’s really amazing,” she adds.

And from the SMS performers themselves, Andrea Perez, 8th grade band member, Danica Rivera, 8th grade band member, and Ava McCann, 8th grade band member, share how they feel about playing in front of 18,000 attendees.

“I’m definitely excited, especially because we’re the first middle school from the Valley to be going to something like this. It’s a very big deal,” said Andrea Perez, SMS band member.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to play in front of so many people,” said Danica Rivera, SMS band member.

“I’ve never traveled this far with the school before,” said Ava McCann, SMS band member. “ I’m pretty excited and a little nervous to play in front of all those people but I’m ready.”

The symphony orchestra will perform the following pieces and close out with Soon Hee Newbold’s Warrior Legacy, the recorded submission piece that accoladed the middle school’s symphony orchestra to perform at the 73rd annual Midwest Clinic.


Performance List

Go West! by Ralph Ford

Huapango Del Oso by Gabriel Musella

Arabian Dances by Brian Balmages

Purple Mountain Heather by Mike Miller

Ode to Joy Festival by Todd Parrish

All is Calm by Robert W. Smith

Warrior Legacy by Soon Hee Newbold