FHC Orchestra’s annual Spring String Fling concert will be hosting special electric strings group, The Moxie Strings


Down the winding hall leading to the fine arts wing, behind metal doors, history and passion live and breathe within the very walls.

The orchestra room, unbeknownst to many of the student body, emanates with the ardor and dedication of FHC’s string students, led by director Andrew Pool. Every year, Pool and the program stir and embolden orchestra students with the joy of music and community, and every year, the students showcase their efforts and talents at a variety of concerts.

Yet, many of these concerts host few members of the FHC community.

“I’m noticing in the last ten years or so that there’s a trend that our own audiences for music performances– and it’s not just orchestra but also for band and choir– are a bit smaller,” Pool said. “And I think sometimes it is a result of us not advertising as well as we can or perhaps not always providing enough incentive for the community to be involved. But it’s really still important for us to support what we do down in the fine arts wing because it’s a vital part of our school.”

Pool often finds the audience turnout disheartening, in light of his students’ commitment and fervor. With orchestra’s next concert just around the corner, Pool hopes to knock this trend on its feet.

March 19 marks this year’s Spring String Fling, an annual concert and tradition in which every orchestra of every FHC building takes the Fine Arts Center stage to feature the past year’s hard work.

“This is the one night every year where audience members and students alike get to hear the work and the progress of all of the kids in the orchestra program, 6th grade through 12th grade,” Pool said. “It’s very valuable because it might be the only time we get to hear and see the progression of the players in one evening’s work. It’s been going on as a part of our tradition, and we’re happy to keep that alive every year.”

Many of the high school students have performed in this concert since 6th grade, making it a very beloved and nostalgic night for the performers themselves.

“I have experienced only amazing times at every Spring String Fling,” said senior cello player Katherine Bell. “It is such a great concert that allows all of the Ranger orchestras to display their growth not only as an ensemble but also as an entire orchestral program.”

This year marks the 35th year of the cherished concert. But the 2019 Spring String Fling is unique for more than just a birthday: a special guest.

“I have been trying for almost ten years to get them to come to this school to do a show with us,” Pool said. “And this year all the planets were in alignment so we were able to get them, and they are a very energetic group.”

The Moxie Strings is a duo of an electric violin and electric cello player, who often travel with a percussionist, that tour the country and world with their lively, unconventional music, often visiting schools for clinics.

“They are very high energy performers, and they like to work with school groups to promote musicianship and learning,” Pool said. “They work to push groups outside of their normal zones of expression into something that’s new and different and exciting and fun all at the same time. And, when they are working with school groups, it encourages kids to express themselves musically. And that’s a really valuable component of what we do.”

Thus, The Moxie Strings will be visiting every orchestral group, from Central Woodlands to the high school, for a workshop preceding the Spring String Fling and will then perform as part of the concert itself.

This is the first time the Spring String Fling will be receiving this sort of twist, and Pool is excited for the invaluable learning opportunity for his students, especially considering The Moxie Strings’ distinct style.

“I hope that it will be really energizing and really a great source of encouragement for younger players; that’s just cool,” Pool said. “Sometimes we lose touch of how much fun we’re supposed to have [while] doing things like music because we’re so worried about the technical aspects and building skills so that we can play the music that’s in front of us on the music stand. Sometimes we just need to stop, take a step back, and remember that it’s supposed to be about fun. If we’re not having fun playing music, what’s the point?”

Many of the students themselves are also eager for an experience unlike any they’ve had before, concerning new and developing skills and an overall engaging clinic.

“I anticipate learning a variety of different musical techniques at the workshop we will have with them,” Katherine said. “Specifically, we will be working on improvisation and memorization, which is something that I have never experienced when performing; it will definitely bring amazing energy to the stage.”

But what is another selling point of this visit for Pool and his students is the effect The Moxie Strings will have on audience turnout for the Spring String Fling.

“I also am excited because there are going to be many people that would come that would not normally come to an orchestra concert,” said freshman cello player Sean Stone. “I think that we will be learning a lot of music that we do not know and would not usually play in regular orchestra class. I think that The Moxie Strings will make the concert even better than it was the years before.”

The Spring String Fling has never hosted guests like this before, and it is anticipated to be a very high-energy and crowd-pleasing concert.

“This would be a perfect concert event for people that are uninitiated in going to music concerts, let alone orchestra concerts,” Pool said. “It will be fun, and it will not be the normal, traditional, what some people might even consider stuffy, orchestra concert. This will be a great concert for younger kids. This will be a great concert for bringing relatives in.”

All in all, Pool and FHC’s orchestras are enthusiastic about this opportunity and hopeful for a full audience to enjoy and witness the passion and fervor of the students and their art.

“We’d really love to pack the Fine Arts Center,” Pool said. “[Orchestra concerts are] not always glamorous. It’s not always on a scoreboard, someplace in bright lights on a Friday night, but it is still a really important thing that we do down here.”