Orchestra tapped to perform at TMEA convention

As the sole string ensemble recording a concert session, McCallum wins fine arts equivalent of a state title


Photo courtesy of Ricky Pringle

At a Nov. 4 rehearsal for their TMEA convention recording session on Jan. 13, the orchestra follows safety protocols to keep their gathering safe. Students bring their own instruments and stands. They maintain social distance, and because they are a string orchestra, they avoid the aerosol issues faced by the band and choir.

It it is not good to admit that you’ve been scooped by another publication, but it happened to us yesterday when the current issue of Southwestern Musician published the formal announcement that the McCallum chamber orchestra will represent the state of Texas as the only string orchestra invited to perform virtually at this year’s Texas Music Educators’ Association convention.

“This honor is the equivalent of a state athletic championship,” orchestra director Ricky Pringle told MacJournalism on Monday.

In a non-COVID world, orchestras submit one concert to TMEA to be considered to perform at the convention, but this school year orchestras were able to submit selections from different concerts from 2019-20. Pringle submitted three pieces, two from the fall 2019 concert and one from the UIL Orchestra Contest on March 3.

This honor is the equivalent of a state athletic championship.

— orchestra director Ricky Pringle

“It was literally from our last performance one week before we were sent home,” Pringle said.

Normally, the orchestra would get to perform in person in San Antonio in February, but thanks to COVID, the orchestra instead will record a concert on Jan. 13 at the AISD PAC. The convention will air the concert to registered attendees on Feb. 13. AISD TV will air the performance on a later date for the rest of us to see.

And how is the orchestra handling the challenges of these COVID times?

“I will admit this has been quite a challenge for us, but the students are doing a really good job,” Pringle said. “As of now we have only rehearsed in person three times. I think that the finished product should be good.”

The product will be good, and the process will be safe.

“With COVID, we are able to rehearse just as athletics is able to practice,” Pringle said. “We have safety measures in place. There is no contact in what we do. Students bring their own music and music stands from home. Students are always kept six feet apart; everyone wears a mask. With us being stringed instruments, we don’t have the aerosol issues of band and choir.”

Dripping Springs’ orchestra will also represent central Texas. The full high school orchestra representative is Allen High School, just north of Dallas.