String Ensembles Delight Outdoor Audiences

David Doherty and Erin Hamill, MICDS Strings Instructors, have worked hard this year to maintain a cohesive group of participants and a robust Strings program along with the adaptations for virtual and hybrid learning environments. They are happy to report that the program has grown from six students in 2018 to 44 this year, and they are especially appreciative of the efforts made by the School to enable our students to safely perform for an audience. As a result, our Middle and Upper School String Ensembles launched their first in-person performance in nearly 18 months at an outdoor concert to the delight of many!

Each performance was conducted and emceed by Mr. Doherty, who shared interesting and funny anecdotes about the pieces and composers. Our ensemble also welcomed a guest bassist, Lucie Herrick, from the Webster School District to round out the group.

MICDS Strings students shared their reflections on this past year and the recent performances:

“While this is only my second year working with Mr. Doherty and Mrs. Hamill, it has been a privilege to be taken under their wing as last year’s only violist. Our program is so new that we’re still feeling our way around the ins and outs of working together as a whole. Most of us have either taken lessons or played with other orchestras outside of school, but coming to MICDS to play is always something we look forward to. The day I heard Mr. Doherty was leaving us next year for Baltimore, I felt devastated that he wouldn’t be with me for senior year. However, over the past few weeks, I’ve started to realize how much he’s actually done for us. Starting this program from the bottom up is more than we could ever ask for, and I only wish the best for him and his family in their next adventure.” —Amelia Markwell ’22

“The Strings Program has grown exponentially in such a short amount of time, and it really is all because of the amazing teaching Mrs. Hamill and Mr. Doherty provide. The Strings Program has such a fun community, and it’s easily the highlight of my day: there’s never a dull moment in the class. Although we haven’t had all the players in person this year, everyone has put in an astonishing amount of dedication to this year’s repertoire. The ensemble members are amazing and such a great group to be with. Everyone did a great job, despite the challenges presented to us at the extremely windy concert, but that just adds to our endless list of inside jokes. I know I can speak for everyone when I say that Strings will not be the same without Mr. Doherty, but we are happy to hear that Mrs. Hamill will be involved next year! This group of people and these memories will be ones that I cherish for a long time.” —Sanchi Vishwakarma ’23

“Mr. Doherty and Mrs. Hamill have done an outstanding job teaching our strings ensemble, even with the challenges of some students being virtual and some in-person. I enjoy playing with my peers. It is very fulfilling to hear our hard work and practice show in our concerts. I am grateful that the outdoor setting provided a safe venue for all students and concert attendees.” —Yash Malhotra ’25

“I love being a part of the MICDS strings program, and I have had so many good experiences in the past year. Mr. Doherty and Mrs. Hamill are amazing teachers. They make sure to give us a good challenge based on our comfort level and expose us to different types of music. I always look forward to strings class, from warming up to practicing our pieces together as an ensemble. One challenge we faced this year was performing during COVID. We weren’t able to have a live show for our winter concert, and instead, we performed on YouTube live. But I am still glad that we got to have a live concert for spring! It was a really exciting experience.” —Saivi Gadi ’25

“Over the course of three years, not only have we grown from six people to 21, but we’ve also formed a strong and tight-knit community of musicians. The pandemic particularly has brought us all together in strings. We always start our class with a question of the day (ranging from our favorite movies, TV shows and characters, memes, to the biggest pet peeves), and it’s really helped to get to know each other better, all while cracking jokes and teasing each other. The concert yesterday is one that I will always remember for the strong wind, some flying music, but most importantly, the fun we had creating music. I also want to thank Mr. Doherty and Mrs. Hamill for all the hard work that they have put into leading and growing the strings program at MICDS!” —Nigina Aripova ’22

“My experience in the MICDS Strings program was amazing! Everyone is very supportive, and they keep the class going. Something that I personally think is challenging, especially during the COVID-19 era, is getting together often enough to improve our skills. Since learning strings instruments aren’t that easy, I think each of us needs as much time as possible to hone our skills and continue playing great music. Speaking of great music, I thought the strings concert we had was incredible! I was very happy with how it turned out, considering the harsh wind and the fact that it was outdoors in general. Some of the parts that were a bit hard to play through were clear and smooth in the performance, which I thought was great! I hope that the MICDS Strings Ensemble continues to be great for the rest of this year and all the years afterward!” —Ellie Chen ’26

“The concert was splendid; even with difficult wind conditions, our ensemble was able to pull off a successful concert. I am so proud of how much our small group has grown, and I am excited to see what it will be like in the future.” —Ava Janes ’23

Enjoy the photos below of our student performances and view the concert programs here!