Saturday Ensemble Experience
Groton Hill offers immersive experiences every Saturday. Students will have the opportunity to rehearse in our state-of-the-art facility and perform on our awe-inspiring stages. Join us for high-level musical experiences, explorations of diverse musical styles, and interactions with guest artists like the Handel and Haydn Society, A Far Cry, Alasdair Fraser, and more.
We offer dedicated students like you a vibrant musical community and ensembles for every experience level.
This Coming Spring’s Artist/Educators:
A Far Cry
Members of Boston’s award-winning A Far Cry will be working with our Youth Orchestra students in Spring 2024. A Far Cry presents four genre-defining works that celebrate the concerto grosso form and highlight the dynamics that play out between players in the orchestra. Originating in the Baroque era, a concerto grosso is a form of orchestral music most notable for the oppositional relationship between a small group of soloists, or concertino, and the accompanying full orchestra, or ripieno. The solo instruments engage in dialogue and display virtuosic passages, while the ripieno supports and complements their performance.
This Fall’s Artist/Educators:
The String Queens
On Saturday, September 30, The String Queens joined our Youth Orchestra Sinfonia and Camerata students to rehearse and perform on our world-class concert stage. Praised for their authentic, soulful, and orchestral sound, The String Queens (TSQ) is a dynamic trio that creates stimulating musical experiences that inspire diverse audiences to love, hope, feel, and imagine! With an array of repertoire spanning from the Baroque era to the Jazz Age to today’s Billboard Hot 100 Chart, TSQ performs versatile programs that take listeners on a rousing musical journey through time and a multitude of musical genres.
Spring ’23 Artist/Educators:
Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas
Students from Groton Hill’s public school string programs in Fitchburg and Lowell, MA joined members of the Groton Hill Youth Orchestra and renowned Celtic artists, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas for a day of learning, playing, and preparing to perform together in the Concert Hall at Groton Hill. The musical partnership between consummate performer Alasdair Fraser, “the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling”, and brilliant Californian cellist Natalie Haas spans the full spectrum between intimate chamber music and ecstatic dance energy. Over the last 20 years of creating a buzz at festivals and concert halls across the world, they have truly set the standard for fiddle and cello in traditional music.
The Groton Hill Advantage
Advanced winds, brass and percussion students have the opportunity to perform in both the Sinfonia Concert Orchestra and Groton Hill Wind Ensemble at a special discounted rate!
Thanks to our generous donors, Groton Hill is able to provide students with need-based scholarships to help make a quality regional ensemble experience more accessible.
Merit scholarships are available for select instruments including tuba, horn, viola, double bass, and bassoon. Submit your video audition now for consideration.
Fall Scheduling Conflicts?
We know how busy you are, and that marching band or athletics might affect your ability to join one of our ensembles starting in September. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Ensemble Manager to learn more about how to join later in the school year.
Youth Orchestra Ensembles:
Sinfonia Concert Orchestra: Advanced
with Ken Culver
This advanced ensemble includes winds, brass, and percussion in addition to strings for a full orchestra experience. Through some of the finest orchestral literature as well as exciting and familiar contemporary soundtracks from stage and screen, Sinfonia members will take their individual playing and ensemble skills to the next level, and experience the absolute thrill of playing in a full orchestra. Beyond musical skills, students will learn to develop leadership, concentration, cooperation, teamwork, confidence and other attributes that will positively affect all areas of their lives. Membership is by audition.
Director Ken Culver publishes a weekly blog with notes for students.
Students who participate in both Sinfonia Concert Orchestra and Groton Hill Wind Ensemble are eligible for special discounts.
Camerata Strings: Intermediate
with Jennifer Perkins
As string players progress in their technical and musical understanding, a string orchestra is the ideal supplement to private study. Our Camerata Strings ensemble is designed for advanced beginner to intermediate level violin, viola, cello, and bass players. Students will learn how to be a valuable ensemble member and further develop their musicianship. Repertoire includes great compositions of past musical eras, contemporary literature of other cultures, and styles beyond classical music. Prospective students should be good music readers and be able to play a variety of rhythms, and in a variety of keys. Membership is by audition.
Chamber Strings: Beginner
with Jennifer Perkins
Learning to play in a group is an essential element in a student’s music education and Chamber Strings is the ideal first step beyond private lessons. The ensemble builds on the student’s technical and musicianship skills and gets them to think beyond their own instrument. Through the director’s expert but gentle guidance, young string players will learn how to listen to others, match their pitch and speed, and fit together the different musical parts that make up an ensemble composition. Prospective members should have good basic reading and rhythm skills, have a good tone, and be confident in playing in first position on all strings. Membership is by audition.
Youth Wind Ensemble:
Groton Hill Wind Ensemble: Advanced
with Dr. Frederick Harris
This new advanced ensemble provides exciting musical experiences for advanced high school woodwind, brass, and percussion players. Members will perform outstanding full wind ensemble music as well as works for mixed woodwinds, and brass and percussion ensemble. Students will have opportunities to interact with section coaches on a weekly basis, as well as with special guest artists, composers, and our professional symphony orchestra. They will develop their creativity and connections with other students through exploring diverse musical styles including classical, jazz, and non-Western music traditions. For players in grades 9 -12. Membership is by audition.
Students who participate in both Sinfonia and the Groton Hill Wind Ensemble are eligible for special discounts.
Meet Our Directors
Director, Sinfonia Concert Orchestra
Ken is an award winning director, conductor, and educator, as well as an active performer and concertmaster in the Rivers Symphony Orchestra.
“Rehearsals are a place for us to work together. To form a shared idea of the musicality of the repertoire, and then to bring that vision alive and share it in our performances.”
Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr.
Director, Groton Hill Wind Ensemble
Dr. Frederick Harris is the Music Director of the MIT Wind Ensemble and MIT Festival Jazz
Ensemble. He is the author of Conducting with Feeling and Seeking the Infinite.
“Every time we gather to make music we have the opportunity to connect and grow.
We expand our humanity by expressing our feelings through sound, silence, and space.”
Director, Camerata Strings and Chamber Strings
Jennifer Perkins has been an educator and musician for more than twenty years, directing musicals and teaching chorus, violin, viola, cello, ukulele, and piano. She is a member of the cello section with the New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra and the Firebird Pops Orchestra.
“We 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.”
Click the button below to schedule an audition or to send in your video — and pay the requisite fee.
Select instruments also qualify for merit scholarship consideration, including brass, double reeds, violas and double bass.
Students interested in previewing a rehearsal before auditioning can do so by filling out this form.
Please contact our Class and Ensemble Manager for more information.
—Prepare two short contrasting excerpts of any solo or etude of your choice that demonstrate your musicianship. Your choices should include passages that are slow and lyrical and ones that demonstrate more technical facility. Percussionists are encouraged (but not required) to play at least two of the three major percussion instruments (snare drum, mallets, timpani). Senior district level audition solos (or equivalent) are recommended.
—Be prepared to play major scales up to four sharps and flats (strings) or five sharps and flats and a chromatic scale (winds), demonstrating your range. Percussionists will be asked to play basic rudiments (and scales if auditioning on a mallet instrument).
—Brief sight reading
—Prepare two short excerpts from pieces that demonstrate your musicianship. Your choices should include parts that are slow and lyrical and ones that are faster and more technical. Percussionists should play one or more of the three major percussion instruments (snare drum, mallets, timpani). Junior district level audition solos (or equivalent) and/or music you are playing in your school ensemble, or lesson material are recommended. Strings: Minimum Suzuki Book 2 – 4 or ASTA CAP Level 2 – 4
—Scales for winds: Be prepared to play two-octave major scales up to three sharps and flats. Percussionists will be asked to play basic sticking patterns (and scales if auditioning on a mallet instrument).
—Scales for strings:
Violin: 2 octave C, G, D, A, Bb; 1 octave E, F
Viola: 2 octave C, D, F; 1 octave A
Cello: 2 octave C, D; 1 octave F, A
Bass: 1 octave F, G, C
—Prepare one or two short contrasting pieces that demonstrate your musicianship. Strings: Minimum Suzuki Book 1 completed or ASTA CAP Level 1 – 2
—Scales for winds: Be prepared to play one-octave major scales up to two sharps and flats.
—Scales for strings as follows:
Violin: 1 octave A, D; 2 octave G
Viola: 1 octave G, D; 2 octave C
Cello: 1 octave G, D; 2 octave C
Bass: 1 octave F, G