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Spring concert marks the year’s final orchestra performance

Perham High School Orchestra students took a bow after performing music from the movie “Brave” at their spring concert on Tuesday, May 21. Other songs performed included “The Adventures of String Girl” and “Nocturne.” Joe Bowen/FOCUS

The Perham Orchestra performed its spring concert last Tuesday, May 21 in the Perham High School Auditorium.

Students of a range of age and skill levels played a variety of songs designed to challenge the performers, Orchestra Director Rachel Mertens said.

The songs included “Nocturne” and the theme from the original Halo video game.

A handful of program alumnae performed alongside the current students, bringing the total number of performers to 40 during the last song, “Simple Square Dance,” which was performed by all age levels.

The concert was the orchestra’s last of the year, and the last of Mertens’ tenure in Perham.

Earlier in the school year, the Perham-Dent School Board voted to move the Perham Orchestra program to ‘co-curricular’ status, as opposed to an elective course within the curriculum, as part of a broader restructuring of the district’s music program.

Mertens’ resignation was approved by the board on April 16.

Callie Wengel, a student who argued against the board’s decision at public meetings earlier this spring, presented Mertens with a bouquet of flowers at the end of the Tuesday concert, as well as several cards signed by current and former musicians from the program.

“I deeply, deeply appreciate the work you do outside of orchestra,” Mertens said in front of the crowd as the concert drew to a close. “Thank you so much for sharing your children. Out of anything I miss when I leave Perham, it will be these students.”

Speaking to the students, she added, “I have absolutely loved working with all of you, and don’t doubt it for a minute.”