M-A orchestra takes the Gold

By JoAnne Goldberg

Special to the Almanac

Menlo-Atherton High School's music director, Kent Kurrus, was not surprised that his student orchestra captured a coveted Gold Medal at the annual Chicago Festival of Gold held at the end of March.

"These young musicians give their all," says Mr. Kurrus, who launched the orchestra in 2011 and has watched it double in size in just three years. "Our students exhibit tremendous individual talent and the drive to be successful as a group."

The Festival of Gold is an invitation-only event, and the Menlo-Atherton orchestra secured its spot by winning the Anaheim Music Festival in the spring of 2013.

Music groups from around the United States and Canada competed during the four-day festival that began on March 28, culminating on March 31 with a day of performances at Chicago Symphony Hall. The orchestra played three pieces for the audience and judges, who agreed that M-A's rendition of the Brandenburg Concerto was the orchestral highlight of the day.

When the 32 student musicians weren't practicing or playing, they took advantage of the opportunity to tour Chicago's Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Water Tower Place, and Millennium Park. They sampled classic Chicago pizza at Gino's East, a lunch sponsored by the M-A Band Boosters, and strolled down Michigan Avenue. The M-A Band Boosters also helped underwrite trip expenses,

The music did not end when the festival concluded. Returning home on April 1, the musicians found themselves stranded for six hours at O'Hare airport. Undaunted, they pulled out their instruments and reprised their Chicago Symphony program -- an impromptu concert that drew cheers and applause from fellow travelers and airport staff.

Kent Kurrus, who joined the M-A faculty in 2010, also directs the school's three jazz bands and concert band.

JoAnne Goldberg is a Menlo Park resident whose son performs with the orchestra.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Bravo to the M-A High School Orchestra!! Well done!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim Goode
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

News of M-A Band's "Gold" in Chicago made me especially proud of the Band members and Mr. Kurrus. As a resident of Menlo Park, I have been enriched of the grand music tradition of M-A. Furthermore, I was excited to be a part of their volunteer performances at the 17 year history of the "Celebration of Reading" to celebrate reading through music sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Mr. Kurrus and his bands were the finale to our programs. When circumstances caused the termination of that tradition, the community lost a day to celebrate the legacy of music in Menlo Park...from 4th graders through the high school. My thanks and congratulations to Kent Kurrus and his marvelous musicians and to their winning of the Gold!

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