Dartmouth High orchestra students take the trip of a lifetime to Scotland

Jul 25, 2018

Dartmouth High School orchestra students spent part of their summer vacation touring the Scottish highlands, getting a peek at the Queen, and performing with more than 300 of their musically inclined peers from around the world.

It was all part of a nine day trip 51 orchestra students took to Scotland to perform in the Stirling Bridge International Music Festival in early July. Besides the Dartmouth High School orchestra, groups from Belgium, Germany, Canada, and throughout the states joined the young performers at the festival.

One of the numerous highlights of the trip was a workshop with Scottish fiddler Thoren Ferguson, a member of the Jacobites, a band that plays traditional Scottish music.

“He gave us a taste of what Scottish music is and how to play authentically,” said Dartmouth High School Orchestra Co-Director Heather Church.

Church also enjoyed learning the Ceilidh, a traditional Scottish folk dance, which included a live Scottish band and over 360 people dancing.

“Everyone was smiling and sweating and it was really awesome,” said Church. “We also got to explore some shops, museums, and cafes around Stirling and Edinburgh.”

One of five locations the orchestra performed was at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. The group was lucky enough to get a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II after arriving early to set up for their performance.

“It was humbling to become part of the history of so many ancient cathedrals and concert halls,” said Dartmouth High Orchestra President Lila Hamilton. “We played in venues hundreds and even thousands of years old. That really hit home when we came upon the Queen emerging from one of our concert venues in Edinburgh.”

While Co-Director Charlene Monte was conducting, Church had an opportunity to mingle amongst the crowd.

“People from all over were watching while Charlene was conducting,” said Church. “It was pretty cool to walk around and listen to people speaking different languages while recording our music with their phones.” The consensus was, of course, that the concerts were the highlight of the trip.

The group was also able to visit the Scottish Highlands.

“It was gorgeous. The Hogwarts train goes by at 3:00 p.m. everyday, so we were able to time our tour to be able to view that,” said Church. “You can’t even imagine the scenic outlooks. Everything was so lush and green.”

Jaidyn Cook, vice president of the orchestra, said her favorite destination was the highlands.

“They were so beautiful and well-preserved, and we got to see the train from the Harry Potter movies, which was really cool,” said Cook.

She mentioned that the orchestra as a whole was able to share their love for music with people from all over the world.

“We were also able to perform with other groups from around the United States and other countries, which was inspiring,” said Cook.

In between performances and trips, the group was also able to go on a boat ride through one of the lochs, as well as a zipline tour.

Church also mentioned how it was inspirational for the students to watch other groups perform. The first day alone, the group walked over eight miles while learning Scottish history and taking in the breathtaking views.

“We learned about other styles of music, and a lot about performing with a chorus, which we don’t get to do too often at home. And performing numerous days in a row made us learn a lot about ourselves and what we were capable of as an orchestra,” said Cook. “This trip was amazing, and it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Mrs. Church and Mrs. Monte. They gave us this wonderful opportunity, and the orchestra is eternally grateful.”