The Valley Orchestra Program consists of three string orchestras: a freshman string orchestra, a high school string orchestra, and the chamber orchestra. Adding members of the Valley Southwoods and Valley High School band departments create symphonic orchestras each year. Additionally, students participate in many small ensembles throughout the year, performing as string quartets and trios at various community functions. Cocurricular ensembles change every year and have included traditional fiddle groups, an electric string ensemble, mariachi groups, and Chinese folk instrument ensembles. The orchestra has collaborated with the Valley Vocal music program to produce four Masterwork concerts and fully-staged productions of several operas including Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 1997 and two one-act operas in 1999: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Mascagni’s Cavallaria Rusticana. Collaborations with the School of Classical Ballet and Dance resulted in ballet productions of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (2002), Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (2003), and a contemporary dance production in 2004. Collaborations with the Valley Drama department have included productions of Guys and Dolls (2004), West Side Story (2008) and Footloose — The Musical (2011).
The Valley Orchestra program has consistently received superior ratings at state contests and has participated in several music festivals including Music of the Rockies in Denver in 1996, the Banff International Festival of High School Orchestras in 1997, and the Heritage Music Festival in St. Louis in 2001. The orchestra also represented the state of Iowa and performed four concerts in Germany and Austria as part of the Music Celebrations International Austria 2000 festival. The orchestra performed at the Heritage Festival of Gold in Chicago in 2002 and traveled to Italy in June 2004 to participate in the Music Celebrations International Festival of Music. In 2006, the Valley/Valley Southwoods orchestra participated in the Winter Park Ski-Music Festival, earning superior ratings. The Valley String Orchestra was selected as the 2006 4A Honor Orchestra for the Iowa String Teachers’ Convention. The VHS Orchestra also participated in the New York Band and Orchestra Festival, hosted by World Projects, and performed on the stage at Carnegie Hall in June 2007. In the spring of 2009, the orchestra traveled to France with the Valley choir and performed four concerts in Paris and Normandy. 2011 found the orchestra in Chicago again, earning a Gold rating at the Heritage Festival. A very successful trip to England and Wales occurred in March 2013, and the orchestra is looking forward to another festival performance in Chicago in April 2014.