PHOTOS: Darien High School holds all-town orchestra festival

Jackie Benisch, 17, left, and Jack Lowder, 18, prepare to do a piece from West Side Story with the Darien High School Orchestra.

All photos Jarret Liotta

A joyful noise did rise from the gymnasium at Darien High School Wednesday evening when the All-Town Orchestra Festival brought more than 400 student performers together for a mammoth music concert.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” explained Richard Sadlon, director of music for the district, including orchestras from five elementary schools and multiple groups from both the high school and Middlesex Middle School.

 “We’ve been doing this for many years,” he said, with a three-year rotation of orchestra, band, and choral groups, in order to highlight the spectrum of each individually each year.

 Two performances were held Wednesday owing to the popularity, with the first simulcast online as well.

“This is a nice way for parents to see the education kids are having,” said Jim Carter, band director at Middlesex.

 “It’s very motivating,” he said, for the students as well, “and it keeps them going in the program.”

With a curricular focus on the music of Leonard Bernstein, among others, the closing number of for the all-combined group was the “Mambo” from West Side Story. It was arranged with the help of Zach Heyde, a professional composer and Darien High graduate.

 “It’s pretty cool because we get to see everyone in one place,” said 12-year-old violinist Drew Min.

 “It’s all about tracking their development,” said Dylan Spielvogel, string teacher at Middlesex and Ox Ridge Elementary School, noting the joy in watching students go from elementary up through high school and become accomplished players in the process.

“It takes a whole district to pull off something like this,” Sadlon told the crowd of parents, “and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.”