Martha’s Vineyard string virtuosos make a concert tour

The 43 Island orchestra students who attended the festival and their two teachers. Back row (l-r): Nancy Jephcote, Emily Hewson, Tomori Buchanan, Liam Weiland, Adam Bilodeau, Christopher Mayhew, Sidney Jasny, Maggie Mayhew, Kanika Datta, Rose Engley, Douglas Norton, Caroline Herman, Elinor Hanjian, Robert Hanjian, Gabriel Nadelstien, Daniel Gaines, Victoria Scott, Caroline Roddy, Christian King, Chelsea Pennebaker, Isabelle Littlefield. Middle row, kneeling: Megan Mendez, Violet Southwick, Benjamin Nadelstein, Camilla Prata, Gedeon Pil, Jason Davey, Wyatt Belisle, Tripp Hopkins, Alexandra Rego, Raven McCormick, Jack Holmes, Veronica Wendt, Zephy Thompson. Front row: Jesse Caseau, Avalon Weiland, Aidan Nunes, Dylan Kadison, Spencer Pogue, Molly Pogue, Alexis Condon, Samantha Maciel, Sarah Taylor, David "D.J." Sweitzer and Ashley Biggs. — Photo by Debra Gaines

A group of Martha’s Vineyard elementary school music students got a taste of what it is like to go on the road last week. A total of 43 string students from the All-Island Elementary Orchestra Program accompanied by five chaperones and string teachers Nancy Jephcote and Chelsea Pennebaker attended the Cape and Islands String Jamboree in Orleans on March 6.

The Island students, from grades four through eight, participated in rehearsals and performed as part of a larger combined orchestra made up of students from around the Cape, about 400 in all.

“The three orchestras covered every inch of the gym floor at Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans and performed in front of packed bleachers,” Ms. Jephcote said in an email to The Times.

It was not all smooth sailing, however, “The initial beginners rehearsal sounded terrible as these inexperienced youngsters struggled to synchronize their efforts with more than 100 fellow novices,” Ms. Jephcote said. “One side of the orchestra headed out a completely different tempo than the other.”

Ms. Jephcote admits said she was a little worried atfirst. “But after four hours of rehearsal the students had polished their pieces to perfection,” she said.

The program included elementary arrangements of Beethoven’s Symphony number 9, Old MacDonald retooled for fiddle (“Old Mac Fiddle”) and the “Saint Lawrence Overture” spun with precision at a livelyclip.

Intermediate middle school players had also worked hard to master “Dragon Hunter,” “Classic Sinfonia” and “King William’s March.” The most advanced students swaggered out with the “Viola Hero,” complete with percussion, then settled down to Beethoven’s “Shepherd’s Hymn” and the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” “Younger players watched, listened and imagined themselves sounding just like the big kids in a few years,” Ms. Jephcote said.

For the grand finale the students joined forces and proudly bowed America the Beautiful. “We couldn’t do this without all the help we get from parents and thecommunity,” Ms. Jephcote said.

For more information on the Elementary All-Island Orchestral program email Ms. Jephcote at