Hercules High’s Advanced Orchestra selected to play at state festival

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Hercules High’s Advanced Orchestra selected to play at state festival
All photos contributed.

By Kathy Chouteau

Hercules High School’s Advanced Orchestra is basking in the glory of great successes in the past year. The group is one of only five high schools statewide chosen to perform for the California State Band and Orchestra Festival at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center in Rohnert Park on Fri., April 28, according to Music Director Arleen Wong.

The high school’s Advanced Orchestra was selected by a blind audio audition to play at the festival a few months ago, per Wong, who said that, since 2019, the group has achieved the highest possible level of ‘Unanimous Superior’ by performing three selections of music for four music educators on the secondary and college levels.

“Participating groups must have received a Unanimous Superior rating at a CMEA sanctioned festival or have participated in a Comments Only CMEA sanctioned festival…,” in order to qualify for the festival, stated the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) on its website.

Wong said Hercules High School offers instrumental, choral and general music courses and that, up until 2019, it was the sole provider of a string program with an Intermediate Orchestra and Advanced Orchestra in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).

She said the Advanced Orchestra is made up of 11th and 12th grade students who have fulfilled the prerequisite of playing in the Intermediate Orchestra. “The teacher may invite 10th grade students to join the Advanced Orchestra if they demonstrate the skills required to perform in the advanced orchestra group, she said.

Wong said that, under her direction, Hercules High School’s Advanced Orchestra has competed annually in the California State Band and Orchestra Festival. She said they have been “invited back to State CMEA for 2024.”

Check out these videos from Hercules High School’s Advanced Orchestra’s festival performance:

Selection 1, Incantations:




Selection 2, Aria for Strings: 




Selection 3, Perseus: