Issaquah Middle School students make sweet music, win big at competition

June 12, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Several seventh- and eighth-grade members of the Issaquah Middle School choir pose with their trophy after winning first place at the Music in the Park competition June 2. By Karen Lee

The trophy case at Issaquah Middle School just got a lot more crowded.

The school’s music department brought home seven top awards from the Music in the Park competition in North Idaho on June 2.

All three of the school’s groups — band, chorus and orchestra — won both first place in their divisions and best overall among the junior high/middle school musicians. Seventh grade chorus member Emily Rudolph also received a medal for best soloist in her age group.

“We are so proud of these kids,” chorus instructor Karen Lee said. “And we got these big trophies.”

While the music department at Issaquah Middle School includes sixth graders, only the advanced seventh and eighth-grade students attended the contest.

Held at Coeur d’Alene High School, the students spent the morning performing pieces for the contest’s judges. With the hard part over, everyone ventured north to Silverwood Theme Park, where the awards ceremony was held that evening.

“There were about 1,400 student performers,” Lee said. “The orchestra and band teachers and I all felt that the kids did well. We really didn’t get a chance to hear the others so we really had no idea that they would win all their divisions.”

Lee’s choir sang two pieces, including “Sing Alleluia, Clap Your Hands.” The group ended the a capella song in six parts with each section performing a different clapping rhythm. For their second piece the students combined different selections from “Les Misérables.” It was during this performance that Rudolph sang “I Dreamed a Dream,” for which she won the soloist award.

“She is a little star,” Lee said, adding that Rudolph acts as well and has already toured around the country with a production of “Annie.” “She has great energy and she’s a good leader.”

Orchestra teacher Terry Shade said she also has great leadership in her group of young musicians.

“Some students show natural leadership, others need to be molded a bit,” she wrote in an email. “The students who are attracted to the string instruments are usually students who do really well in school. They show discipline, hard work and fantastic attitude.”

With only a few weeks of rehearsals behind it, the 75-member orchestra won its two awards for its performance of “Wood Splitter’s Fanfare” by Brian Balmages and “Petite Overture” by Eliot Del Bergo.

“The kids did a wonderful job,” Shade wrote. “The sound was really huge.”

After a morning of performing, an afternoon of riding rollercoasters and an awards ceremony where Issaquah Middle School continually was called out the students and teachers settled in for a long drive back to Issaquah.

One student, Shade wrote, fell asleep on the bus with a large trophy on his lap.

Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Comment at

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