In Harmony: Science Hill Orchestra preparing to perform with JC Symphony

Johnson City Symphony cellist Cherylonda Fitzergerald works with Science Hill students. Photo by Collin Brooks

The Science Hill Orchestra has been invited to perform with the Johnson City Symphony. The two groups will take the stage together on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. inside the ETSU Martin Center for Performing Arts on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

“It is an honor and privilege for the Science Hill Topper Orchestra to be invited to perform with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra,” Johnson City Schools Orchestra Director Susan Lambert said. “Our orchestra students have worked intensively with members of the symphony in preparation for performing side-by-side with a symphony musician.”

The last time the two groups took the stage together was in 2018. The Science Hill Orchestra is one of nine high school orchestras in the state of Tennessee. With the upcoming concert, the Science Hill students aren’t the only people excited about the opportunity.

“That stage is going to be full of strings,” Johnson City Symphony Celloist Cherylonda Fitzgerald said through a smile. “To play on a stage with that many people, that many string players, is uncommon. The sound is going to be massive, so that will be fun.”

Fitzgerald has been with the symphony since 2004 and is one of six cellists. She will be joined onstage by 18 cellists in the Science Hill Orchestra, which surprised even her. Fitzgerald and a few other members of the JC Symphony have spent time coming to the high school to work with students in each section.

“It’s been really, really good. It’s very fulfilling,” Fitzgerald said. “You have students who are at various levels, so just encouraging them all to improve and giving them a chance to hear each other and inspire each other. I’m hoping to encourage them to help each other more when I’m not here. My objective is to teach them to teach themselves.”

Science Hill musicians practice for the joint concert, which will take place this Saturday. Photo by Collin Brooks

“As a professional, we know that it’s not just about playing the cello,” she continued. “It’s about developing other skills that they will hopefully transfer to other areas of their life including academics and just their well-being.”

Science Hill junior Erin McMillion has been playing the violin for most of her life and she said the experience working with the symphony has been amazing.

“It’s been absolutely magical,” McMillion said. “As a section leader, seeing everyone in my section growing as a player and growing in confidence, it’s just such a great experience. We are very fortunate to be able to work with professionals.”

Kaylee Rogers is a junior at Science Hill and has played the violin since fifth grade at Indian Trail.

“It’s super exciting,” Rogers said of the concert. “It’s really fun to get the chance to play, not only with our orchestra members, but another whole orchestra with more talented members because they’ve been playing for so long. So I am really excited to hear the sound of that.”

Science Hill sophomore Zeke Brown plays the cello and said he’d had a good experience working with the symphony and that he’s learning that even the smallest adjustments allow the group to sound much better.

“Honestly, it’s been really cool,” Brown said. “Having somebody who is a professional at this kind of thing, go in and work with you individually, with your own section. It’s just really neat and fascinating.”

Tickets for the event can be purchased at


About Author

Comments are closed.