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Making Music Together

Student-musicians join area orchestra

When Christelle Jean-Francois, ’23, takes the stage this weekend with the Brockton Symphony Orchestra, it will represent an important step in her growth as a cellist.

“I’ve played the cello since I was little,” she said. “It’s in me. I can’t spend a day without my cello.”

The Marshfield resident is a music education major who hopes to one day lead a school string instrument program. Along with 2023 classmates Sarah Fernandes and Daniel Alves – both percussionists and music education majors – she joined the orchestra at the invitation of conductor and BSU professor, Donald Running. The students play alongside a mix of professional and amateur musicians, including several other Bridgewater faculty members.

"We need new, young musicians and excited musicians that want to be part of what we’re doing,” Running said of involving BSU students. “Playing in a symphony orchestra is a really different experience for our students.”

With few people in their sections, the students must truly master their parts for the group to succeed. They learn to blend their instruments into the ensemble and perform challenging pieces at fast tempos. And, they see Running use the conducting strategies he taught them in the classroom. 

They also appreciate his willingness to bring students into the group.

“He could have easily gotten someone who graduated five years ago, but he chose active students to do this,” said Daniel, a Brockton High School graduate who looks forward to performing with his hometown orchestra. 

The group’s upcoming concert will feature the premiere of “Soaring Over the White Mountains,” composed by adjunct faculty member and tuba player David Vess.

Orchestras, Daniel said, are not as prevalent as other ensembles, making this experience even more important.

“It’s definitely a privilege to have been selected to be performing,” said Sarah, who is from New Bedford. “It’s like a threshold for me, trying to reach the next tier of my professional career and being able to make more connections and play music on a higher level.”

The Brockton Symphony Orchestra performance takes place March 6 at 3 p.m. at Christ Congregational Church in Brockton.

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