Going For the Gold

Freshman Odessa Burlis performs her violin and wins gold medal for solo and ensemble


Alija Ernst

Burlis plays her piece that she preformed for solo and ensemble. She won gold for this piece.

by Alija Ernst, Content Manager

Being a freshman can be really difficult for some; navigating through a new school, meeting new people and teachers, and having new classes. For freshman and violinist Odessa Burlis, she joined a new school with a new orchestra teacher, Amanda Davis. Davis has the challenge every year of teaching freshmen students to compete in the solo and ensemble competition. Burlis was encouraged by her teacher to perform in the competition. 

“My private teacher, who is not at this school, encouraged me to compete. Not for the competitive aspect, but for the fun of it,” Burlis said. “I was really nervous about how I would sound and perform. I was also really nervous about how the judges would grade my performance.”

But even before the competition itself began, MSHSAA had to set its judging standards, due to COVID affecting how musicians are able to perform for solo and ensemble. Before COVID, there were categories for how musicians looked while performing, their positions on their instrument, among others. However, this year was a little different; MSHSAA graded on the same things pretty much, but the judges watched and listened to recordings of the performances through a cellphone. Davis explained how this year went with the changes to solo and ensemble. 

“Usually MSHSAA grades by category, however because of COVID, they are now grading kids and participants through an app that we have to download in order to be able to compete. However, there was a whole process on how to prepare for the competition,” Davis stated. “We had to register for the competition, get the music approved, scan the music score in for the judges to look at, secure an accompanist to help Odessa while she is performing, and then we only have three chances to film the proper entry performance.”

At last, performance day was upon the contestants. Burlis explained how she felt after hearing that she won.

“Before and after my performance, I though I was going to at least get a silver. I thought that there was a possibility that I would get gold, however I did not want to get my hopes up by dreaming too big. However, once I found out that I had won a gold medal for my performance, I was surprised, happy and relieved that all my hard work paid off,” Burlis said. “ As a freshman, I would like to move up chairs in orchestra. I would also like to compete in solo and ensemble again and hopefully do just as well.”

Davis wants Burlis and others students to be encouraged for future years of orchestra.

“I hope that Odessa and other students won’t be discouraged to perform and compete, and hope they strive to play in the solo ensemble to gain confidence of being able to perform on your own. Also, I don’t want students to let COVID prevent them from preforming in the future.”