Mount Desert Island High School sophomore Jane Pope, left, plays first violin in the school's orchestra. She was a featured soloist in a Mendelssohn piece at the recent String Festival. PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILY ELLIS

Students learn from pros at island-wide String Festival

BAR HARBOR — String players from five schools in third grade through high school, more than a hundred of them, gathered at Mount Desert Island High School recently for the annual Strings Festival.

After rehearsing throughout the afternoon, students played a concert in the evening for parents and the community. Guest artist U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion Sean Heely did workshops with the students, and played for them.

He had a wonderfully down to earth approach with our students which allowed them to feel confident,” said Allison Putnam, music teacher at Tremont Consolidated School. “My favorite part was watching the faces of my third graders during the enrichment piece. They were in awe of Sean.”

The student concert featured two orchestras. Orchestra I, made up of 3rd through 5th graders, played the traditional tune, “Boil ‘em Cabbage Down” conducted by Heely.

“French Folk Song”, written and conducted by Pemetic Elementary School music teacher Ed Michaud, was an original piece involving singing as well as playing. Of that piece, Putnam commented, “One of the sweetest sounds was hearing our elementary ensemble singing in French about the beauty of Acadia.”

Orchestra II, made up of the upper grades, played a variety of challenging pieces including “Field of Dreams,” conducted by MDI High School music teacher Michael Remy.

The annual program was paid for by the MDI Educational Enhancement Fund. It was organized by Conners Emerson School music teacher Rebecca Edmondson in collaboration with other area music teachers Michaud, Putnam, Remy, and Heather Graves of Mount Desert Elementary School.

Events such as MDI Strings Fest exist for our students to experience playing in a large ensemble,” said Putnam, “and to work with high school students and Mr. Michael Remy to transition them into the high school music program.”

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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