High school orchestra takes holiday rock concert to the Zeiterion

Dec 26, 2017

Instead of rocking out at the Dartmouth High auditorium like in years past, the high school orchestra took its flashy and loud rendition of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show on the road to the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center on December 23.

Playing alongside the orchestra and some 50 alumni at the sold-out performance was a very special guest: Mark Wood, an electric violin icon and former member of the traveling holiday rock group.

The pairing was a dream come true for Dartmouth High Orchestra Director Heather Church, who looks up to Wood as one of her greatest inspirations.

“He’s so kind, patient, and encouraging,” Church said. “He was so much fun to play with and he is truly one of the biggest string/music advocates in the country.”

Multiple students were able to play the electric violin with Wood onstage.

“It was a touching moment when a legend like Mark Wood was rocking out next to my sister, Sarah, on the electric violin and got her to crack a smile,” said Thomas Hartman. “It seems like he feels blessed to be giving back to communities around the world. The DHS orchestra was electrifying, figuratively and literally.”

Alumnus Youssef Abi Ramia mentioned how it was a well-deserved opportunity for Dartmouth's orchestra to play alongside Wood, but also for him to be able to witness the excellent orchestra program that Heather Church and Charlene Monte have put so much work into.

“The orchestra performed beautifully and I loved the show from the standpoint of an audience member,” Abi Ramia said. “To be able to play once more alongside fellow musicians was an amazing opportunity. It was awesome for Mark Wood to come out and play with the DHS Orchestra. I had met him once before in high school and he has always had this cool personality and is great to work with.”

“It was a blissful experience and a perfect way to put work aside and get in the true essence of the holiday while having fun with family and friends,” said alumnus Daniel Monte. “Mark was wild; he's one of the artists that comes by every while and turns the art upside-down.”

Before Wood, Monte noted Christmas was celebrated in swing with greats like Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Bublé; however, now holidays are celebrated with Rock.

“He [Wood] fathered forth diversity of genre in our Holiday music,” Monte said. “What a gift.”

The audience seemed to be more than pleased with the performance.

“Our family was so impressed with all of the musicians,” said audience member Trisha Leary. “My daughter Sydney, a first-year viola player, was inspired by the show. Although I did not have the opportunity to meet Mark, I felt his dedication to music and the importance of music education came through in his willingness to perform alongside the students.”

Executive Director of Programming and Development at the Zeiterion, Rosemary Gill, summed up the night as being so impressive for Dartmouth.

“You truly should be proud for supporting the arts and education,” Gill said.