Leading and Inspiring Our Flagship Youth Ensembles

Saturday is one of the busiest days at Groton Hill Music School! Students of all ages are here for their weekly lessons, early childhood classes are in motion, and our flagship youth ensembles are busy in our performance spaces. Groton Hill’s Youth Orchestra and Wind Ensemble programs bring 90 string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students together to rehearse and work with our exceptional conductors as well as special guest artists (like The String Queens and A Far Cry) in our world-class performance spaces. 

Ken Culver (pictured top left) leads the Sinfonia Concert Orchestra, an advanced full orchestra experience. As an award-winning high school orchestra director, he has served as Orchestra Director at Westford Academy for 25 years. Ken is also Concertmaster in the Rivers Symphony Orchestra and performs with various regional ensembles. “We’re trying to make something special here,” he says. “The concert hall, the rehearsal spaces, they all exude ‘special.’ The challenge is for the students to add to that, and to be emotional in the music-making.” Ken introduces the students to music that is demanding yet accessible, “… real music, from different genres and different backgrounds.” He adds, “Rehearsals are a place for us to work together to form a shared idea of the musicality of the pieces, and then to bring that vision alive and share it in concerts.”

Jennifer Perkins (top right) leads the Camerata Strings – for intermediate level violin, viola, cello, and bass players – and Chamber Strings, for advanced beginner string players. She is also the strings/orchestra teacher in Wilmington, and she teaches private violin, viola, cello, ukulele, and piano! An active performer, Jennifer is a member of the cello section of the New Hampshire Philharmonic and the Firebird Pops Orchestra. “What’s great about being here at Groton Hill is that this is a new music building, combining modern aesthetics, modern technology, and things we’ve figured out as musicians that work really well for us,” says Jennifer. She likes to remind her students that, “You should never be afraid to make mistakes while learning or trying something new, and never be so hard on yourself that you can’t enjoy what you’re doing.”

Dr. Frederick Harris Jr. (top center) leads the Groton Hill Wind Ensemble for motivated high school woodwind, brass, and percussion players. The group currently has 34 players from all over the region. In addition to Groton Hill, Fred serves as Music Director of the MIT Wind Ensemble and Festival Jazz Ensemble, and as MIT’s Jazz Performance Studies Coordinator. He and the MIT Wind Ensemble have been featured on NPR, PBS, and in two New England Emmy-winning documentaries. He is thrilled to be working with the Groton Hill Wind Ensemble, and has created opportunities for his students in both large ensembles to perform together – on stage at Groton Hill and at MIT. “Every time we gather to make music we have the opportunity to connect and grow,” he says. “We expand our humanity by expressing our feelings through sound, silence, and space.”

“Our ensembles succeed not only by the professional teaching artists that inspire and guide them, but also by welcoming new members with open arms,” says Lauren Panfili, Groton Hill’s Class & Ensemble Manager. We are now accepting auditions for mid-year enrollment. Interested students and their families can also come and see our ensembles perform at their upcoming Winter Concerts on Sunday, February 4 in the Concert Hall. Learn more and get tickets:

Groton Hill Youth Orchestras: Winter Concert
Sunday, 2/4 at 2pm in the Concert Hall

Groton Hill Wind Ensemble: Winter Concert
Sunday, 2/4 at 7pm in the Concert Hall

Learn more about the Groton Hill Wind Ensemble and Youth Orchestras