High school orchestra program holds first fundraising effort

Director of orchestras for the Kodiak Island Borough School District, Walter Muelling, speaks to high school musicians. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The High School Orchestra program is at the beginning of a fundraising effort for a 10-day trip to Wisconsin. There, they’ll attend a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance, play with other student musicians, and meet with music professors.

The director of orchestras says they need to raise $70,000 dollars, and while he’s not exactly sure how yet, it starts with a pop concert tonight.

KMXT stopped by a rehearsal Monday.

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Concert Master J.B. Kim stands in front of a 46-person orchestra of violinists, violists, cellists, bassists, and a drummer.

J.B.’s job is to lead the warm up. He’s also part of the majority. He’s one of 24 high school violinists.

“I have a real passion for playing the violin.”

The 17-year-old has ambitions that could stretch into attending music school. It’s something he’s considered.

“I just want to get good at this. Because, one, it keeps me going – because I love the violin, I love playing it. It’s just something I love to do.”

Kim says the orchestra has been practicing for the concert for over roughly 2 months. They’ll play a range of pop music, from Etta James to Justin Timberlake.

“I’m excited for all the songs. I can’t pick a favorite because they’re all great.”

He’s also excited for the trip to Wisconsin next year.

“One, we’re gonna hear two big orchestras play and we’re gonna hear what a real orchestra is, and we’re going to sit in the front rows, and we might even play with an orchestra, and we get to see the world of cheese is what Mr. Muelling calls it.”

Director of orchestras for the Kodiak Island Borough School District, Walter Muelling, grew up and went to college in Wisconsin.

“If you come to Kodiak, you have to taste the salmon right? If you go to Wisconsin, you have to taste the cheese.”

Besides his familiarity with the state and its cuisine, he says he also chose Wisconsin for cost saving reasons. He says he’s arranging for home stays instead of booking hotel rooms and reaching out to friends.

“I’m calling in about every favor I know.”

Muelling says transportation for the 20 to 30 students will make up the bulk of the $70,000 dollars, and he’s planning to escort the students during spring break 2019.

“It’s very good for them to get to see how other orchestras are run and kind of see that they’re not alone on this island. They’re doing very similar things. It’s also good for them to get to go and tour and share their music and hear other kids share their music, and they’ll get to hear a professional symphony play.”

The concert tonight is the first step toward that goal.

That’ll be at 7 p.m. in the Kodiak High School gym, and there’s a suggested donation of $10.

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