The J. Laiten Weed Honors Orchestra

The orchestra comprises twenty-two of the high-school string students achieving the highest scores in auditions for each year's South Dakota All-State Orchestra. They begin preparing Honors Orchestra music individually in December and arrive on the Thursday evening before Saturday's concert to audition for solo assignments and placement within the group. An intense two days of rehearsal with an exceptional conductor/clinician/educator follows, culminating in a performance that invariably proves to be polished, refined and exhilarating.

How can I play in the J. Laiten Weed Honors Orchestra?

First, audition for SD All-State High-School Orchestra.To do this, your school must be a member of SDHSAA. Honors Orchestra members are selected from the top-scoring violins (12), violas (4), cellos (4), and basses (2). If one of these students is unable to participate, an alternate may be selected from the next-highest-scoring students, at the discretion of SDSTA.

History of the J. Laiten Weed Honors Orchestra

J. Laiten Weed was one of the first professional string teachers in South Dakota. Director of the Yankton College Conservatory of Music, he was a charter member of the South Dakota String Teachers' Association. An Honors Orchestra to showcase the state's top string students—and to provide them with a unique musical learning experience—was a goal that Laiten shared with other string teachers for several years. In 1986, SDSTA president Raymond Sidoti secured initial funding for a state Honors Orchestra from the American String Teachers' Association and the SD Arts Council. The next February, during one of Laiten Weed's several terms as president of SDSTA, the Honors Orchestra became a reality.

When his wife, Lucy, died in 1986, Laiten established a string scholarship fund in her name. The fund soon evolved into the Lucy Palermo Weed String Competition. The generous bequest received following Laiten Weed's death in 1989 enabled the competition to provide financial sponsorship of the Honors Orchestra. Hence the orchestra is dedicated to the legacy and the memory of J. Laiten Weed—gentleman, consummate teacher and professional musician. Through his vision and provision for the future, SDSTA has both the Lucy Palermo Weed String Competition and the J. Laiten Weed Honors Orchestra to promote and reward excellence in string music.

2018 Honors Orchestra

will be held in Rapid City, February 22-24, 2018 (Thursday-Saturday) Rehearsals will be at Central High School and the concert will be held at First Congregational UCC, 1200 Clark St.

Jungho Kim of Kent State University will serve as clinician and conductor. Mark your calendars and watch this space for more information as it becomes available!


Photo Gallery: 2013 J. Laiten Weed Honors Orchestra with Aviva Segall

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