Orchestra joins festival at St. Mark’s

By Bunnard Phan

For the first time, the orchestras of BB&N, St. Mark’s School, and Nobles and Greenough School merged for a performance. On February 24, the BB&N and Nobles orchestras traveled to St. Mark’s to perform at its annual Winter Ensemble Concert. To conclude the night, the three orchestras joined to play “Pomp and Circumstance No. 4” by Edward Elgar.

“The [combined] orchestra was loud. It was grand,” said cellist Liz Martin ’14. “Little notes didn’t matter as much as the whole dynamic—whether it was loud or soft—[unlike] when it’s [a] small [group] and you can hear when somebody plays a wrong note.”

“It was really exciting and something I’ve never done before to have a super orchestra made out of three different schools,” said bassist Ella Driscoll ’13. “Meeting a bunch of new people, playing with them, and creating this beautiful sound was fun.”

BB&N’s orchestra features around 35 members, while the combined orchestra, which was conducted by BB&N Orchestra Director Adrian Slywotzky ’98, numbered approximately 100 students. Though each orchestra had rehearsed the piece individually, the schools only had an hour to rehearse together before the concert began.

“In terms of collaborating, it worked really well. [The BB&N orchestra] had practiced our piece once or twice together beforehand, and it was a simple enough piece to come and play together, but it just sounded magnificent,” said Ella. “It was nice that we had Adrian conducting us so that we had a little something to feel comfortable with.”

According to Mr. Slywotzky, the three orchestras directors began discussing the possibility of a collaboration last year.

“We started talking about it in the fall,” said Mr. Slywotzky. “The inspiration [for the collaboration between the schools] came from the orchestra director at St. Mark’s, who invited us—Nobles and BB&N—to join her for this [event]. Janet Underhill, the orchestra director at St. Mark’s, started the ball rolling and did a lot of the organizational work: getting music out to people, arranging the seatings, and choosing the repertoire.”

The concert also featured a performance from the St. Mark’s Jazz Band, and leading up to the final number, each orchestra played its own piece.

According to Ella, being able to listen to and share music with other students was interesting.

“We got to show off our ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ [by W. A. Mozart],” said Ella.

She stressed, however, that it was especially rewarding to interact with other musicians.

“While we were playing, it was really friendly. Everyone got along really well. You had to be seated next to somebody from a different school, which I think made it fun and forced you to meet new people,” said Ella.

“What an opportunity for our students to meet, listen to, and collaborate with peers who are equally serious about music,” agreed Orchestra Parent Liaison Carolyn Wong P’13. “Our kids sounded wonderful and looked confident. The event was all that it was anticipated to be.”

According to Liz, even though the audience wasn’t particularly large, and not too many BB&N parents made the trip, the concert and collaboration between the orchestras was still a success.

“The audience wasn’t that big, but I think everyone really enjoyed it,” Liz said. “If we did it again I would definitely go. It was really enjoyable.”

“It hasn’t happened before, but I hope that it might happen again, and it went well enough that everybody thinks it should,” Mr. Slywotzky said.

Photo: BB&N’s orchestra played together with those from Nobles and St. Mark’s. Courtesy Kay Kane P’14, ’17.

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