You had me at cello

Orchestra students form string quartet

The crowd watched the aisle, eagerly anticipating the music that would indicate the bride’s arrival. Finally, the moment came. Everybody stood and glanced to the back. The string quartet looked at each other nervously as they took a collective breath and began to play. The soft melody of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran filled the air as the bride walked towards her groom. The Rose Quartet intricately moved their bows back and forth. It was as if they were playing as one.

The string quartet is comprised of orchestra students. A string quartet is a musical ensemble consisting of two violin players, a viola player and a cellist. Senior Thomas Mowery plays violin, senior Kyndle Westrope plays cello, senior Sebastian Penallio plays violin and sophomore Shelly Magnotti plays the viola.

They became friends last year when they were in a chamber orchestra, the top orchestra on campus. On out of state trips they became closer friends. They first performed together in class as a quartet and decided that they would start rehearsing class music together outside of class and they immediately clicked.

Their first performance together was at the wedding of Westrope’s family friend. The bride asked Westrope if she could get some friends together and perform. Westrope said yes without hesitation.

“It was really touching emotionally to see the bride and the groom exchanging their vows,” Westrope said. “They were very much in love, so we got to channel that in the music we were playing.”

The members of the quartet already had played together, so they figured this would be no different. When they had rehearsal they worked hard but, they still made time for fun.

“We are friends before we are a quartet,” Westrope said. “We are all genuinely such good friends who genuinely care about each other, so our rehearsals don’t feel so professional that we aren’t enjoying ourselves fully.”

They had never played at a wedding before, so they didn’t know any of the technicalities involving rehearsing and practicing for the actual day.

Tara Connick
The members of the quartet watch a video of their wedding performance. They all met in orchestra.

“When we first got to rehearsal for the wedding, we weren’t sure where we should sit or how loud or quiet we should play,” Penalillo said. “We just weren’t exposed to it, so rehearsals were very experimental. ”

During practices at each others’ houses, the four players worked through classic wedding songs, a range of pieces that they picked and special songs that the bride and groom chose. During the time-consuming process, Mowry, Penalillo, Westrope and Magnotti grew even closer.

“It was a really good experience for us because we’ve always been friends but working together more musically gives us a stronger bond,” Magnotti said.

They said that playing in a quartet is already incredibly intimate because of how few people there are. There’s no director, so they have to be a unit that takes cues and cut offs from each other. They had to completely trust and rely on each other and work as one.

“I love that all of us are so passionate about music,” Westrope said. “We want to learn new music outside of the wedding and class music because we love learning great music. It’s not work for us.”

When the day of the wedding finally came, the musicians were both nervous and excited. They rushed as they got their music together and into their playing positions. They were doubtful of themselves and how they would do, but they trusted each other and wanted to let the music flow out of them.

“I was nervous because if you mess up it’ll be on video forever,” Westrope said.

Besides the nerves they also had to manage the wind turning their pages and an oddly large number of bees buzzing around them. But when the bride walked down the aisle to “Perfect,” the obstacles they faced seemed to no longer matter.

“I’m always nervous at first, but when I got into the music, it just felt like home,” Mowery said.

The Rose Quartet enjoyed playing at the wedding so much that they hope they can get more opportunities to play in the spring.

• • •

The quartet sat laughing and smiling recalling the wedding. The bride walked towards them and placed small envelopes in their hands. Inside were handwritten thank you notes expressing her gratitude for performing. As she left, they thanked her for the notes and realized it was all worth it. The money they received for playing was great, but the best part was that she gave them the opportunity to play for her on one of the most memorable days of her life.