Beyond the Concert Hall – From the Top at Conservatory Lab Charter School Part 3: Accolades & Reflections

This post is Part 3 of a three-part series about From the Top’s Fall 2014 residency at the Conservatory Lab Charter School (CLCS), an elementary school in Boston with a music-intensive curriculum. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  


It was a Friday afternoon at Conservatory Lab Charter School. A large room filled to the brim with elementary schoolers, teachers, and parents. There was palpable anticipation in the air.

After several minutes of waiting, in walked a group of students – From the Top arts leaders Claire McEwen, Corinne Auger, Julia Churchill, and Emma Churchill; and CLCS elementary school students José Fuentes, Yannik Dzialas, Marguerite Greene, and Chavez Singletary. Wearing pristine white shirts, instruments in hand, and nerves high, they stood before the school community, about to give one of the most meaningful performances of their lives.

As the younger CLCS students took their seats at their music stands, From the Top arts leaders remained standing to address the audience.

From the Top arts leaders speaking to their audience

From the Top arts leaders speaking to their audience


“We have been here this past week, working with the CLCS students on ways to work together in a chamber ensemble. We’ve gone over techniques such as cueing, listening, and expressing the mood through music, which you will all see today as the students perform for you. The eight of us have really gotten to know each other and expanded our love for teaching and playing music.”

Then, the CLCS students took their seats and began to play.

CLCS students performing

The school community watches their peers perform


As the arts leaders watched their CLCS students with pride, their peers in the audience watched in awe.

CLCS student audience members watching the performance


After playing the Tchaikovsky, the arts leaders joined their students to make a larger ensemble. When they announced the next piece – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9 – the audience cheered.

CLCS students and From the Top arts leaders performing Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, arranged by Jeff Manookian.


After the rousing applause, the CLCS students put down their instruments and made room for the arts leaders to perform the final piece – Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2 in D major.


Arts leaders performing Borodin's string quartet


At the end, everyone bowed to the delighted listeners.

All of the musicians bow to the applauding audience

A great performance was only exceeded by the experience each student took away.

The arts leaders reflected on their biggest takeaways from the week.

Claire McEwen:

“My biggest takeaway was seeing Chavez open up, relax, and smile.” said Claire McEwen. “That in addition to seeing how excited all the students were after the performance, is what I’ll remember the most.”

Chavez performing as his peers watch

Julia Churchill:

“My biggest takeaway was at the final performance; seeing how impressed the younger students were with the CLCS quartet; the expressiveness that the CLCS students performed with in the final concert.”

Emma Churchill:

“I was blown away by how much the students took away from this week, and how evident it was in the performance. Even though we were only here for a week, I felt like there was a real connection and bond that grew between us and the CLCS students!”

Corinne Auger:

“Never underestimate how much one person can accomplish. This was one of the most fun and rewarding activities I’ve ever had in music. I love performing at a higher level but I got such a mood boost after working with these kids every day, and it’s changed my view of why music matters for the long run too.”


We look forward to seeing what this special group students end up doing in the future, both in and beyond the concert hall.