Unaccompanied Minors

The long hours that Andover students spend each night in the library might give us the misleading image of complaisant youths, but is there really such a thing as an “obedient teen?” Three seniors recently formed an ensemble named Unaccompanied Minors. The entirely student-run ensemble is still just getting on its feet, but the group promises to make an impression on the community. According to Lucy Maguire ’08, one of Unaccompanied Minors’ three co-heads, the ensemble is “by no means a rebel group.” Most members are regularly attend the traditional orchestra. UM is simply another chance for motivated musicians to hone their skills and play some interesting music. Paul Joo ’08 and John Heroy ’08, UM’s other two co-heads, raised the idea of a student-run orchestra two years ago. However, nothing came of their discussions until last year when Heroy presented their plans to Maguire. UM’s main problem was locating a skilled student conductor, which is vital to any orchestra. Maguire soon agreed to conduct the new ensemble. Extensive training and experience in the art of conducting rendered Maguire a fine conductor. Maguire also suggested “Unaccompanied Minors” as the new ensemble’s name. However, Joo argued that such a title was “too unwieldy.” After much debate, the three co-heads agreed to abbreviate Unaccompanied Minors to UM. UM became an official club last spring. Like any other club, UM was required to submit an application for review and approval, which meant finding a faculty advisor. Maguire asked her violin teacher, Judy Li, if she would be willing to fill the position. Li agreed, UM’s application was okay and the orchestra finally became a legitimate ensemble. UM began recruiting at this year’s club rally. However, the 30 members who initially signed up quickly dwindled to 15 by the club’s first rehearsal. Later the group swelled to the current 20 or so regulars. Because the ensemble’s main focus is preparing for performances, members must give the heads forty-eight hours notice if they can’t make a rehearsal. “Anyone can join,” said Maguire. “We can’t afford to be picky and wouldn’t want to, so there’s a big range of skill.” That is arguably the most attractive aspect of the club. As long as you can make some decent music come out of an instrument, you’re welcome at Unaccompanied Minors. The group’s only other requirement is that musicians join at the beginning of each term. The ensemble plans on performing once every term, so each concert is the culmination of an entire term’s worth of rehearsals. Obviously, students can’t be allowed to start rehearsing half-way through the term and bring down the group’s performance at the concert. UM’s rehearsals are currently building up to a December 2 concert, which they will hold in the chapel. The show’s repertoire includes a “Pirates of the Caribbean” medley, “The Toy Symphony” and “Rain Dance.” The audience is in for an interesting night because UM’s performance will be the world premier of the orchestral version of “Rain Dance.” “The Toy Symphony” utilizes unusual instruments such as the rattle and nightingale whistle. In conjunction with Joo and Heroy, Maguire conducts Unaccompanied Minor’s rehearsals from 3:30 to 5 p.m. every Sunday afternoon in Graves’ Pfatteicher Room. “There are a lot of random jokes in every rehearsal,” Maguire said. “We keep things lighthearted and sometimes have too much fun. But we want them [the musicians] to be smiley.” Currently, one of UM’s major challenges is a lack of funds. They are in dire need of sheet music, but without money to obtain music the resources of Andover’s music library set the limit on what the ensemble can play. Furthermore, UM would like to buy food for the post-concert reception at the December performance. Unaccompanied Minors plans to fundraise and apply for a PSPA Abbot Grant to satisfy these goals. Maguire said, “UM’s future is unclear.” The main dilemma next year will be the same as the reason the club was slow to form in the first place – there are no student conductors. Maguire will graduate in 2008, and Andover does not have a sea of conductor candidates for Unaccompanied Minors to choose from. Near the end of the year, the heads will choose a dedicated member of the group to train as the new conductor. This is the only way for the ensemble to continue beyond the current year. Anabel Bacon ’09 said, “The quality of the music is actually very similar to the faculty-run orchestra, but the nice thing is it doesn’t require you to devote two school nights a week to rehearsal.” They’re minors. And they’re unaccompanied. What more can you ask for from an orchestra? At least one group on campus lets its rebel side shine through.