West High Symphony Strings head to Washington D.C.

West High Symphony Strings performs send-off concert Feb. 18 before traveling to Washington D.C.


Maya Chu

West High orchestras perform in the Arganbright Auditorium on Feb. 18 in preparation for a trip to perform in Washington D.C.

Maya Chu, Anna Song, and Camille Gretter

Classes weren’t the only thing Thursday’s snow day interfered with. West High Orchestras’ concert, which was to feature the Concert, Philharmonic and Symphony Strings, was also canceled due to district guidelines. 

Symphony Strings performed a make-up concert on Friday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. featuring Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 9 in C Major, Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky by Anton Arensky, and the 3rd movement of Choreography by Norman Dello Joio. These are the three pieces the group will perform in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center for the Capitol Orchestra Festival. 

“It was a bummer that we didn’t get to play on Thursday because I wanted the younger groups to be there,” Director Jonathan Welch said. “I think we need to … get a little adrenaline into our system and go out and play in a wonderful hall. I was incredibly happy with [the concert].” 

Symphony has been working to perfect these pieces throughout the school year in preparation for the festival, which they were selected for as one in five youth and collegiate orchestras nationwide. 

“Mr. Welch has done a great job of preparing us for this trip, and I’m so excited for our hard work to pay off. I can tell he’s really dedicated to this because he often gives us inspirational speeches, and I’m excited to show the other orchestras what we’ve been working on,” said Anjali Lodh ’25. 

At the concert, Symphony Strings wasn’t seen wearing their traditional concert attire of long dresses and tuxedos. Instead, the performers wore tour t-shirts that they will wear on their trip to D.C. 

Following the concert, students traveling to D.C. remained at West High until 1:30 a.m., when the bus arrived to take them to Chicago’s Midway Airport.

“It felt like we were in one of those high school movies. We were paying hide and seek and green light red light,” said Ijin Shim ’24. “It was magical.”

The group arrived in D.C. Saturday morning, where they began their tour of sites including the Smithsonian Museums and the Vietnam War Memorial. They are set to perform on Monday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.