Stranger Strings: Orchestra Turned Upside-down

Stranger Strings is an extracurricular string ensemble that meets after school every Friday. Referencing the popular Netflix show Stranger Things, the group aims to turn the string world upside-down by exploring orchestral pieces outside of the usual Mozart or Handel repertoire. 

This is “not the usual style of music we do in orchestra,” remarks Claudine Culhi, ’22. Members are given the freedom to choose string arrangements, though “they’re really open to anything,” says Lauren Whisnant, Orchestra and Band Director. The group thinks outside of the box, blending staples of pop culture such as the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day, with the refined quality one would typically associate with an orchestra. Anything—jazz, Latin, swing, rock, and even Irish fiddling—is on the table.

With a tight-knit group of 10-15 students, most of whom are taking Philharmonic Orchestra, Stranger Strings’ small size is made up for with enthusiasm. Whisnant describes the members as “very passionate about music.” They are not afraid to push the boundaries of what stringed instruments could be, and really “explore what else [their] instruments can do.”

Playing with friends makes Stranger Strings a whole lot more fun. “These are people I have known since middle school—even elementary school,” Culhi adds. She hopes to see more kids joining Stranger Strings as the Orchestra department grows, and perform at gigs outside of school.

Stranger Strings’ first show will be held on December 10, at Orchestra and Band’s Winter concert. In addition to “Green Day,” the group will be performing “De Blues,” a blues tune, and “Devious,” which is Latin jazz, during the first concert’s reception.

When asked about her hopes for the ensemble, Whisnant closes by saying that above all, she wants to “show people that what [Stranger Strings] doing is not limited to a specific genre” and “get them to understand that we can do anything on these instruments and make it really cool.”