Daytime Orchestra Concert “Strings” Rams Together

On Tuesday, February 20, an annual tradition debuted—the Middle School enjoyed its first-ever MICDS orchestra concert during the school day! Three talented groups performed, including the Sixth and Seventh Grade Orchestras, the Concert Orchestra (which is composed of eighth-grade musicians), and the Upper School Virtuosi. The theme for the school-day concert was focused on the power of music in connecting one another.

First, the Sixth and Seventh Grade Orchestras played Autumn Rhubma by Svendsen and Popcorn by Griesinger. Much to the delight of the audience (and to the joy of the performers), the musicians performed the song Popcorn while popping up and down in their seats, alternating between standing and sitting, to cleverly symbolize popcorn popping. Following, the Concert Orchestra played Brandenburg Concerto no 5 by Bach and a tune many recognized, Highlights from the Avengers by Silvestri. Lastly, the Upper School Virtuosi performed Struggle in the Shadows by Balmages.

This show also offered the opportunity for students to learn more about the MICDS Orchestra Program, as they will soon be signing up for next year’s classes. To help share more about each instrument, four students demonstrated their particular instruments. Each student talked about the strings on their respective instrument and described how it fits among the sounds of the orchestra.

Ada Song ’30 demonstrated the bass. She shared, “I first chose the bass because I thought that bigger meant better. I quickly found that it was very heavy and had thick strings. Still, after playing for a while, I started to get used to the bass and really enjoyed it! It’s also pretty cool being the lowest instrument in the strings family, but the main reason I like the bass is because it is so unique, gives tons of depth to orchestra music, and the bass can be used in so many music genres.”

The violin was showcased by Tarik Yagci ’29, who explained, “I like playing the violin because it is easy to convey one’s emotions, whether that is through sweet melodies or intense passages. It is a versatile instrument with a repertoire from various musical genres such as jazz, folk, and classical. I also like to challenge myself, so the violin is the perfect instrument since it is considered a hard instrument to play.”

Nolan Ma ’28 demonstrated the cello, and Anna Ko ’28 showcased the viola. Ko shared, “The viola is an instrument that resembles a human voice the most with its middle range of highs and lows, and it is also the only instrument to use an alto clef. Personally, I have a great love for the viola, for its versatile position in the orchestra, and for the stronger sound it can produce, or in contrast, the twinkly sound it can also create. My love of the viola is also shared with the famous violin virtuoso Paganini, as he showed great admiration for this instrument, even creating a piece known as the Sonata per la Grand Viola. My personal recommendation is that if you want to join orchestra, play the viola!”

This final piece, Struggle in the Shadows, was written specifically for young musicians to reflect on the positive role they can take when confronting bullying. It featured Siboney Oviedo-Grey ’26 on the piano. “Struggle in the Shadows represents a person’s journey in a world of oppression, specifically bullying, in which they can either be a bystander or an upstander,” describes Siboney. “There is a section in the composition where tension builds, symbolizing a falling out, but the piano returns and shines light on the harmony that results from being an upstander. I hope the audience was filled with hope and comfort after listening to it and took some time to reflect on how they can stand up for themselves or others.”

The concert also had a special guest join the stage on Tuesday. Did you know that JK-12 Science Department Chair & Upper School Science Teacher Paul Zahller doubles as an artist, too? He made an exciting appearance on the drum set to add to the dynamic show. “I love being included and working with students in a different capacity,” shares Mr. Zahller. “I hope that students see that faculty members are not one-dimensional and that will inspire them to pursue all their interests going into the future.” How fun to witness the orchestra concert bringing together the community from STEM to the arts!

The moving performance took all of the Rams in Eliot Chapel on an adventure of togetherness. “Seeing how these musicians brought the entire Middle School on an emotional journey that connected our community was so inspiring! It is a highlight of my year for sure,” reflected Dr. Jo Nardolillo, JK-12 Arts Department Chair and Orchestra Director.

Thank you to the orchestra faculty who helped guide the students in putting on such a magnificent and powerful show: Dr. Nardolillo, Orchestra Director, Nicole Kovaluk, Director of the Sixth and Seventh Grade Orchestras and After-School Program, and Erin Hamill, Director of the Upper School Orchestra. This concert helped prepare the orchestra musicians for the upcoming Chamber Music Evening on March 7 at 6:30 p.m. After such a beautiful and fun performance, we can’t wait to take another meaningful musical journey with these Rams!