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The Lowell

The Student News Site of Lowell High School

The Lowell

The Student News Site of Lowell High School

The Lowell

WATCH: Orchestra to celebrate 100 years of music at Lowell with world premiere

The Lowell orchestra classes will celebrate 100 years of music at Lowell with a centennial concert in the Carol Channing Auditorium on Thursday, featuring the world premiere of an original work composed specifically for the event.

The symphonic orchestra will be playing “The Quickening Pollen,” written for the anniversary by local composer Charles Boone. The title of the piece was taken from a quote by poet James Russell Lowell, our school’s namesake, who wrote that “Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.”

The untraditional, modern style of music, which “The Quickening Pollen,” is composed in, is uncommon for a high school orchestra to play. The piece uses notation that symphonic orchestra class normally doesn’t read, according to orchestra teacher Michele Winter, but the students learned from working directly with Boone during rehearsals.


In an SF Chronicle article on the event, Boone explained the frenzied nature of the piece.

“If something sounds really great, you let it go for a while,” explains the composer, who advised the string players that even though they may share the same notes and phrases, “as you’re playing your part, you’re on your own. If you’re doing the same thing as the next guy, you’re doing it wrong.”

As for the three triangles, they chime in near the end when the music goes “totally berserk.”

“The piano is banging away, the celesta is banging away, and the triangles are banging away,” he says. “They ring like crazy.”


Boone’s relationship with Lowell began a few years ago when he came in to talk to the AP Music Theory class about music from the mid-20th century as a part of the Composers and Schools in Concert program. When he heard about the 100 year anniversary, he offered to compose a song in honor of the program.

The advanced orchestra will also perform “The Lowell Spirit Songs,” written for Lowell by Robert Anino, Aptos Middle School teacher and Lowell class of 1928 alumnus.

The students have been practicing the concert pieces since January, from a ragtime piece composed 100 years ago to the songs that will make their world premiere tomorrow.


Winter has been teaching at Lowell for 25 years. “I’m so grateful to be part of a continuum, a tradition, a history,” Winter said. “It means that there has been 100 years of students who love to do music and teachers who have been dedicated to those students. And for me, I have my own little quarter century here!”

Ms. Winter sees this progress as proof of the immense importance of music in our lives. “Arts bring life alive!” she said. “Even if you don’t end up working in the arts, you need them when you come home from a hard day of work where everything’s just oppressive. You need some way to open your mind and connect with the world, what’s been beautiful and inspiring over the centuries.”

The centennial celebration will be hosted in the Carol Channing Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on April 6.


100 Years of the Lowell Orchestra Program

1911 The San Francisco Symphony gave its first concert

1912 Lowell’s student orchestra gave frequent concerts around town

1916 Music entered the curriculum. The first music teacher was hired. Glee Club, Harmony, and Musical Art classes were offered for credit.

1919 A second music teacher was hired to teach orchestra classes.

1920s The Music Club, a Dance Orchestra, the Diminished Seven Jazz Band, and the ROTC Band flourished outside the curriculum.

1935 The instrumental music program grew to include three orchestra classes and two band classes.

1939 The Advanced Orchestra performed at the Golden Gate International Exposition.

1962 Lowell moved to 1101 Eucalyptus Drive where the music program finally enjoyed purpose-built music facilities.

1970s The Lowell Orchestra performed at Expo ’70 in Osaka. The music faculty grew to three full-time teachers. Advanced Placement Music was first offered in 1972.

1980s Lowell musicians performed for Presidents Carter, Ford, and Bush, the premier of Italy, and the emperor of Japan.

1990s Donors funded equipment for a digital piano lab.

2000s Lowell was named a GRAMMY Signature School.

2010s Guitar classes were offered for the first time. Lowell received special recognition in Visual & Performing Arts from the California Department of Education.

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WATCH: Orchestra to celebrate 100 years of music at Lowell with world premiere