Orchestra welcomes new director, new vision

Ethan Lee ’24 plays the cello in last year’s winter concert, December 13, 2023 – Communications

As an art form, music is indefinable. It has unique significance to each individual. And yet its significance is incontrovertible, transcending nearly all barriers. 

String Ensemble Director Mr. David Brown said, “To pursue music is to learn how to live.”

Having just joined the community this year, Mr. Brown has an extensive musical background as the artistic director of the Illumine Trio, Acting Choir Director at Main Line Unitarian Church, and violin and chamber music teacher at Merion Mercy Academy. Aside from his musical career, Mr. Brown is also a high-intensity strength trainer and a grassroots political organizer.

With his musical ability and upbeat personality, Mr. Brown aims to foster an environment of inclusivity and expression in the form of an orchestra as a firm believer “in empowering students to take the reins.” 

To many orchestra members, the dynamic between students and Mr. Brown is not typical of a student-teacher relationship. Instead, it resembles one of mutual understanding and respect, with students as collaborators, not subordinates.

Rehearsals for the orchestra occur twice a week at 7:45 in the morning in Centennial Hall, where a small group of musicians, all from different musical backgrounds, unite to create art. 

“I particularly do enjoy playing violin, and playing with a group of people is a lot more interesting and a lot more invigorating than playing alone,” Fourth Former Brooks Brewington said. “When you’re with an orchestra or with a group of other instruments… it just makes playing the instrument so much more enjoyable.” 

“I see our program as a sky-is-the-limit sort of situation. If you have an idea, I’m committed to finding a way to make it work.

Mr. David Brown

Sixth Former James Gates shared a similar sentiment.

“I like playing music, I like the stuff we’re working on, I like the repertoire, and I just like being a part of the group, playing,” Gates said. “Music is a large part of who I am, and so orchestra is an aspect of that that I really enjoy.” 

Mr. Brown values the orchestra as a place of expression.

“I see our program as a sky-is-the-limit sort of situation,” Mr. Brown said. “If you have an idea, I’m committed to finding a way to make it work.” 

Mr. Brown describes his goal to open the orchestra up to other instrumentalists who play wind, brass, and percussion instruments, as well as his excitement for the program to include a symphony orchestra.

“I’m very excited about where we’re going,” Mr. Brown said. “I’ve been here all of two months now, but I see so much potential.”