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Tualatin High orchestra places first in league, advances to state

School's musicians edge Lake Oswego High for top honors in Three Rivers League.

COURTESY OF TUALATIN HIGH SCHOOL - The Tualatin High School orchestra wowed judges with its performance last Thursday at the Three Rivers League Orchestra Festival and earned an automatic berth at the state contest May 12.“Our goal really was just to qualify,” said director Reggie Stegmeier. “Well, when it all came down to it at the end, found out that we'd not only qualified, but we'd won.”

The Tualatin High School orchestra is headed to the state competition next month in Corvallis. Judges rated the orchestra higher than its rivals at the Three Rivers League Orchestra Festival, which Tualatin High hosted last Thursday.

“It's a very competitive league we're in with some very fine orchestras, and so it was really a big win for them,” Stegmeier said of his orchestra students.

Under the rules of the Oregon School Activities Association, orchestras that place first in their leagues — for the state's largest high schools, including Tualatin, there are six — automatically advance to the state contest. The field of 15 orchestras is rounded out by those chosen from a “tape pool,” into which orchestras that receive a high enough score to qualify but not high enough to win within their league are placed, Stegmeier explained. A fresh panel of judges then determines who advances by listening to audio recordings of the orchestras' performances.

If the Tualatin High orchestra has ever come out ahead of all the other schools in the Three Rivers League before, Stegmeier said, it's been a long time.

“The program has not been good,” he said frankly. “This is my third year, and it's really turned around.”

Tualatin High's chamber orchestra, which includes top orchestra and band members, also competed at the league festival in a different category. The chamber orchestra received high enough scores to qualify, Stegmeier said, but it was disqualified because its performance ran just 26 seconds too short to meet the requirement.

The state orchestra competition is May 12 at Oregon State University. Stegmeier noted that Tualatin High may be joined at the contest by other qualifiers from the Three Rivers League, such as Lake Oswego, West Linn and Lakeridge high schools, which placed second, third and fourth respectively within the league.

Tualatin High has never won the OSAA state orchestra championship, according to records dating back to 1987, five years before the school opened.

By Mark Miller
email: mmiller@commnewspapers.com
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