The sea of spruce bodies tunes to the concertmaster’s A, crescendoing a warm aroma of sound. Each musician gazes up with excitement at the rosewood baton awaiting the conductor’s signal. It is the last concert of the year for the PHS orchestra, but for conductor Cathy DeVos, this will be her last concert after 37 years of conducting the orchestra.
“The concert was amazing,” Devos said. “I was proud of every group.”
On May 17, the PHS orchestra hosted their last concert of their year, featuring Reels and Reverie by Silva, Incantations by Richard Meyer, a transcription of Schubert’s 5th Symphony, and Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major with senior Edwyna Zhu as the soloist.
“I chose the Haydn concerto because it is from the Classical period, my favorite of the four musical periods,” Zhu said. “Haydn’s music is simple, yet melodious and pleasant to the ear. Also, Ms. DeVos likes Haydn, so I knew she would enjoy conducting it.”
“Although we do a concerto every year, this one was the most meaningful because it was [DeVos’s] last year of teaching and everyone really enjoyed the piece,” Junior Aaron Moy said.”Everyone one played their best that night as a tribute to DeVos’s devotion to the orchestra over the years and her funny personality”
After the concert, many parents and students came up to Devos to express their gratitude for providing their children with musical education and her years of devotion to the Piedmont community, Moy said.
“It was fabulous because I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Devos said. “It was a concert that I shall always remember.”
The concerts are not the only thing DeVos will be missing, however.
“The entire orchestra class is very sad to see her leaving this year,” Moy said. “She is a fantastic teacher and mentor and has this wonderful personality that allows her to connect with all the kids.”
Devos’s strong mentorship has lead the orchestra to compete in numerous competitions in Vancouver, Los Angeles, and all over the country. Additionally, DeVos has been responsible for providing the music for the past 10 musicals including Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, and 1776, Devos said.
“My favorite thing to do is collaborating with the other teachers,” Devos said. “It makes the job exciting, fun, and interesting.”
Although she is sad to leave, DeVos said that she is looking forward to her retirement. She will still remain active in music by giving flute lessons, practicing her flute, and participating in the Holy Names University Orchestras.