On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, DeKalb County canceled all after school activities, including the biggest orchestra performance of the year for many schools.
Chamblee was one of the schools scheduled to perform at the 2017 Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE), more commonly known as “Festival.” Schools from all over DeKalb County congregate at a selected high school to showcase their pieces and demonstrate their musical ability. Three judges then score them based on their performance.
This year, Festival was scheduled to be held at Lakeside High School, but due to a storm warning for the Atlanta area, the event was called off.
“I was pretty ticked off,” said Chamblee orchestra director Earl Kuutti. “It wasn’t like a snowstorm.”
Kuutti received word that the concert was canceled on very short notice. The County did not notify schools until around 3:00pm, at which point some schools had already left for Lakeside in order to get to their performance on time.
“There were already a couple hundred kids there [Lakeside], and they turned them around,” said Kuutti.
No reschedule date for the concert has been announced, and according to Kuutti, the concert has essentially been canceled for good.
“We don’t have anywhere to play,” said Kuutti. “Lakeside, our hall, Druid Hills, everybody’s set up for their musicals. Nobody can find a place or time to regroup.”
One activity that day, however, was not canceled: the High School State Basketball Playoff game. Kuutti was particularly upset about this.
“[LGPE] is like our playoff,” said Kuutti.
Senior Chase Evans thinks that it was very inconsiderate of DeKalb County to prioritize sports over other events and competitions.
“I understand that it was their state championship and everything, but we prepared and practiced just as long as they did, if not longer and harder,” said Evans. “It just speaks to how sports gets a bigger heads up that everything else really, especially the arts.”
Students in Chamblee’s Orchestra had begun to work on their pieces for Festival at the beginning of the semester and had spent hours upon hours trying to make them perfect.
“I was upset about it [LGPE being canceled] because we had worked on those three pieces over and over again for so long, just to figure out the day of that we didn’t have LGPE,” said Joyce Yun, a member of the orchestra.
The entire orchestra had worked exceptionally hard to prepare the pieces. Several band students volunteered to join the orchestra for the Festival performance at Kuutti’s request and had given up their time to do so. Senior Caroline Johnston was one of those band students.
“I didn’t even go to that many rehearsals for Festival, but when I did go to rehearsals, that was my time that I could’ve spent doing something else,” said Johnston.
Despite the cancellation of LGPE, the music that the orchestra worked so hard to prepare for Festival will not be completely wasted.
“We will probably pick one piece, pull it out and really polish it out, then play it at the May concert,” said Kuutti.