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North’s very own Derek Hibben conducts professional orchestra

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Mary Jane Hibben

For the first time, senior Derek Hibben conducted the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, a professional orchestra composed of about 70 to 80 adults ranging anywhere from their late 20s to 70s on Dec. 10. Hibben conducted the piece “Sleigh Ride”, which was one of about ten songs the orchestra played that night for their Elgin Symphony Holiday Spectacular concert. 

Hibben has been playing the viola for 10 years and has been in Chamber Orchestra for three years at North. He is also a part of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra and their Hanson String Quartet. More recently, Hibben gained interest in conducting as well as pursuing it as a future career, resulting in him taking conducting lessons. 

“First, I got into a class at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for conducting and that’s where I learned the basics. And then I got my first one on one lesson with the director of the Elgin Master Chorale in April of 2023,” said Hibben. “And then in August, I started taking lessons with the director of the Elgin Symphony, Chad Goodman.”

The first time conducting sparked an interest in Hibben was when he went to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) concert and heard one of his favorite pieces conducted by Riccardo Muti. 

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“I went to a CSO concert probably two or three years ago, where it was Beethoven seven (Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven), and the Brahms Violin Concerto…” said Hibben. “I saw Riccardo Muti conducting and it was fantastic, being able to see everything he was doing, having the whole orchestra, and then watching them follow him; that seems like a lot of fun.”

Leading up to the concert, Hibben had no rehearsals with ESO, but instead conducted “Sleigh Ride” for the first time with the Symphony at the concert. 

“Some rehearsal would have been nice. I had a few things that I wanted to do that couldn’t happen without the rehearsal… There’s this part where I wanted to slow down and some things you can only learn from mistakes… And one of those things is don’t be too adventurous without a rehearsal,” said Hibben. 

Preparing to study music in college, Hibben is hoping to conduct more in the future but was very grateful to have this experience as it showed him he wants to be a professional conductor. 

“I was a little nervous because [it was my] professional debut… it was almost an out-of-body experience like never before… I didn’t even feel like I was conducting. I just felt like – it’s so cliché – but it felt like it was what I was born to do.”

While Hibben has conducted orchestras such as North’s Chamber Orchestra during rehearsals and his own small orchestra weekly from his home, this was his first time conducting a professional orchestra. This monumental experience showed Hibben what his future could look like, furthering his passion even more than before.

“It really served as a big inspiration for me because I was able to go up there and do something that I’ve been itching to do for quite a while,” said Hibben. “And to get to do it; it was a great experience.”

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About the Contributor
Magen Kranz, Arts and Culture Editor
Magen is a staff writer for the Stargazer, this year she serves as our Arts and Culture Editor. She is a sophomore and this is her second year on staff. Magen engages in student journalism because she enjoys working with her peers to create stories about our wonderful school.

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