It’s not an easy task to wrangle 170 small children for any purpose, much less a concert, but Nancy Jephcote and Chelsea Pennebaker successfully conducted their flock of young string players through a range of tunes at the All-Island Winter String Concert on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the High School’s Performing Arts Center.
The annual event is an opportunity for Vineyarders to hear selections from the Elementary String players — students from many Island elementary schools — performing in the Advanced or Intermediate Orchestras, and students playing a Suzuki repertoire (by memory).
Upon taking the stage with dozens of his friends, one young boy sarcastically remarked, “It’s not bad, it’s only 169 kids rushing onstage!” While the older students performed classical pieces such as “Scarborough Fair” (originally an old English folk song before Simon and Garfunkel adapted it) and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” the small ones fidgeted, first in the audience and then onstage, but maintained a watchful respect. When their turn came to play, it was less Tchaikovsky and more “Mississippi Hotdog Twinkle,” but their coordination and rapt attention to their conductor showed they would soon be ready for more.
The crowd was supportive and fun, and Ms. Jephcote coaxed the performance from her students, opting for do-overs rather than bad starts and stopping everything if there was a sole performer out of place.
At the end, the children dallied at the front of the stage, clutching violins and cellos for parental photo ops.