Handel the Stars

McNeil Orchestras’ UIL Achievements

String Orchestras, both Philharmonic and Varsity, have brought home yet another set of trophies from the annual UIL competition. UIL, also known as University Interscholastic League, supervises competitions on statewide and regional levels throughout the state of Texas. This year’s competitions for both orchestras were held March 10 at Raymond E. Hartfield Performing Arts Center.

“The symphony (which includes both some members of our McNeil band as well as our entire Varsity Orchestra members) has received sweepstakes ratings for 16 years in a row now,” director James Caswell said. “Our Philharmonic also held a strong record of achieving sweepstakes in the contests for the last eight years.”

Clearly this year was quite successful; despite this, Caswell points out all of the improvements necessary for both string orchestra levels.

“[Though I consider] the McNeil Symphony Orchestra as the flagship Arts organization on our campus, the members need to improve their sense community and connection towards their teammates and the music that they play,” Caswell said. “In fact, all of the McNeil orchestra levels need improvement in this department.”

The director concludes the orchestras’ achievements as satisfactory. Not only that, both orchestras worked hard; in spite of their own busy schedules, both orchestras found enough time to practice individually and participated in for early morning rehearsals for the sake of the UIL competition.

“All three orchestras at McNeil are high achieving teams with the top students at our campus,” Caswell said. “My role is only that of a conductor, because all of my students are accomplished musicians in their own right.”