Upper School Orchestra Celebrates 50th School Anniversary Through Music and Community

By Hannah Garcia June 3, 2024

“Knights on three! One, two, three, Knights!” rang out from the drama room just before the BB&N Upper School orchestra took the stage for a special performance of “Ode to Joy” and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. While this repertoire may not seem unique, what made this a memorable performance was the addition of 12 guest musicians from the BB&N community, including alumni, staff members, a parent, and a Lower School student. 

In 1974, the Buckingham School merged with Browne & Nichols school to form a coeducational day school in Cambridge. Sixteen years later, the Upper School formed an orchestra, thanks to the larger student and faculty body provided by the consolidation of the two schools. 

The orchestra has a storied history, battling through lean personnel times and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the program has persevered and become a staple of a BB&N arts education. So much so that alumni of the program Elliot Cless ’02 came back to his alma mater to spearhead the program after his predecessor Brian Reasoner retired in 2019.

Dr. Cless spent countless hours this year working behind the scenes, arranging parts, communicating with guests, and leading the vision of the event. As a result, the 12 guests integrated seamlessly into the 34-student ensemble who had worked tirelessly since the fall to bring Beethoven’s acclaimed symphony to life.

If the audience’s thunderous applause wasn’t a marker of the success, seniors Leo Wang ’24 and Graham Lee ’24 said it best, “If you ever host another alumni concert, we’ll be here.” 

Thank you to Elliot Cless for his work putting this performance together, and archivist Esme Rabin and parent Banu Demir for their work collating historical artifacts to share with the community during the event. Also, thank you to digital communications manager Sam Karl and content manager and guest viola Hannah Garcia for their marketing and merchandising efforts.