Setting the tone: High school chamber orchestra greets staff, students with music

Mar 12, 2021

On Friday morning, Dartmouth High schoolers and staffers were greeted with chamber music as they streamed in through the school entrance.

Nearly a dozen kids in the school’s chamber music orchestra came in half an hour early to play violin, viola and cello for their peers before classes started — just for fun.

They rocked some classical tunes as well as other classics like Eleanor Rigby and the theme from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ 

“We’re just trying to do this because we don’t have any other performance opportunities,” explained Orchestra Director and strings specialist Heather Church. “And it spreads a lot of joy when the teachers and students walk in.”

Part of the program has always been working towards playing concerts, she noted — but there is nothing planned for this year yet. 

“This year has been — I think we’ve all felt a little bit lost,” Church added. “Hopefully we will have [a concert] at the end of the year in some capacity.”

During the pandemic the chamber orchestra — like the student body — is split into two “cohorts” that attend school in person on alternate days.

Cohort A played on March 12, while the three kids in Cohort B played last Friday.

Church said that the group plans to continue the welcome concerts, possibly every month.

While the students played, teachers, staffers and even some students paused to listen, often flashing a thumbs up or a wave of thanks.

“This is such a nice way to start the day,” Associate Principal Rachel Chavier told Church. 

Junior Caroline Kelly said that it’s her first year in the chamber orchestra. “I really like it,” she said. “Ms. Church is such a great teacher. We play all the fun music!”

And she doesn’t mind coming in early, she said. “It was fun to play for everyone and the teachers,” Kelly said. “I know they really liked it.”

“I love it,” enthused English teacher Jessica Lassey. “I have a bunch of these kids, so seeing them in another arena is just amazing.”

“The talent our kids have just blows me away,” she added.

Dartmouth High School Principal Ross Thibault agreed. 

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “We have an excellent music program, that’s well sets the start of the day off on the right note.”