Stage Notes orchestra is also student-centered

Joel Fox

WATERTOWN — When Stage Notes puts on “Chicago: High School Edition” in late July, it will have an orchestra as musical backdrop, which is a diversion for company founder and artistic director Ticia Aumell. Most of her shows have featured recorded tracks to accompany singers.

But the orchestra for “Chicago” will have a particular twist. In addition to local professionals such as music teachers, the orchestra will feature several high school and college students, including a recent graduate of Watertown High School conducting it.

“We’re trying to create a strong, young orchestra,” Mrs. Aumell said. “We’re hoping in the next couple of years we can create a Stage Notes orchestra that is made of exceptional high school students who are playing for exceptional high school students.’’

Conducting “Chicago” will be Joel Fox, who graduated June 29 from Watertown High School. He played tuba in the school’s wind ensemble for the past four years.

“Music, in general, interests me,” Mr. Fox said. “It’s weird to see it from a different standpoint. All these years, I’ve been in the band and choir seeing this person waving their arms around and you don’t think much of it. But now, when I’m in their shoes, it’s super cool with so much work that goes into it. It’s a rewarding process.”

The student orchestra is being overseen by Andrea Wischerath, director of bands at Watertown High School. She said that of the 13 members in the Stage Notes orchestra, six are youths.

“We wanted it to be student-centered, but the music is difficult,” she said of the ‘Chicago” score. “In some cases, we needed to use professionals.”

Mrs. Wischerath will play saxophone in the orchestra and Mrs. Aumell will play piano. Mr. Fox will be doing more than conducting the music.

“He also has some lines,” Mrs. Wischerath said. “He’ll interact with the cast as he’s conducting.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Features writer

Multiple award-winning writer of life in the north country

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