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All Strings Considered rings in holidays

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

The Westwood Council on Aging recently hosted a winter luncheon for seniors, with
entertainment provided by All Strings Considered.

Founded six years ago, All Strings Considered is a student-run string trio comprised of students
from Westwood High School. These musicians recently traveled to the senior center to spread
some holiday cheer with renditions of traditional selections.

On the day, friends settled in and enjoyed sandwiches and cookies in the community room,
eagerly awaiting the stylings of the string players.

Musicians Anthony Yang (violinist), Claire Peng (violinist), and Grace Barnett (cellist) put their
hearts into the music and were happy to spread the joy around. The tight-knit group works as a
unit, playing communicatively, and the clarity of each individual shines through. Though the trio
participates in orchestra, the three also enjoy playing music recreationally while giving back to
their community and sharing their gifts with an attuned audience.

Cellist Grace Barnett has been playing cello from age eight. Her sister was an original founding
member of All Strings Considered, and Grace eventually followed suit. “We really play mostly for
seniors,” she explained. “We all feel it’s great connecting with an older community, sharing with
other generations. We know there are a lot of health benefits for music for older citizens.”

Seniors hummed and swayed to their favorite seasonal tunes as the community room
transformed to a small concert hall for the afternoon. The event reportedly was booked solid in
five minutes, according to COA Director Lina Arena DeRosa. “We wanted it to be an intimate
concert,” she explained.

Plenty of Christmas classics, as well as a Hanukkah medley, evoked emotion from the crowd.
Smiles spread across faces as the memories of holiday traditions returned. Opening with
selections from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker’, All Strings Considered had its audience entranced
and brought them into a realm of seasonal comfort.

Songs included selections from Mendelssohn, Handel and Mozart. The high schoolers even
tackled “March of the Toys,” making for an incredible showstopper. “We have a huge selection of
holiday music,” violinist Andrew Yang commented. “We kept a variety with traditional songs from
different cultures, ‘The Nutcracker’, and religious hymns. We don’t have a violist, so Grace
transposed the viola part on cello.”

The inventiveness of the trio continues as they book local gigs with minimal supervision and run
practices out of their busy school schedules at their homes.

“We have a lot of fun. I’ve known Anthony since Elementary School orchestra, and Grace and I
have been close friends since sixth grade. It’s a lot of fun,” violinist Claire Peng smiled.

The level of joy and friendship on display — as well as the quality of the music, of course —
makes All Strings Considered a special trio. With spirited rhythm and precision, they wowed
Westwood with their performance.

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