In a typical orchestra, a viola’s sound usually blends and harmonizes with the other instruments, providing support to any ensemble. However, the sounds of Maeve Kelley `17’s viola were made to stand out.

Kelley has played violin since she was five years old, but only began playing the viola to fill an empty spot in the middle school orchestra after their sole violist moved away. She fell in love with the instrument instantly, and has been a vital member of the orchestra since. Kelley has participated in a variety of ensembles, such as the Rivers Conservatory, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and, just this year, the New England Conservatory Prep Orchestra. She is also a member of the Honors Chamber Orchestra here at WHS.

“She practices, and I always feel it; she comes ready to play,” said Dr. Sergey Khanukaev, the conductor of the Honors Chamber Orchestra. “She is patient about her instrument. She loves to play, and I actually appointed her to play a solo part in our forthcoming concert, to appear as a soloist.”

Kelley can add soloist to the list of her many orchestral accomplishments. She’s played as the principal violist in most of the orchestras she’s been in, and the Honors Chamber Orchestra has won gold medals at the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association festival every year since she joined. Kelley also earned a spot in the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Senior Districts, a state-wide music festival.

Although she enjoys the classics, her favorite genre of music to play is film scores. At the Rivers Conservatory, her orchestra was actually the very first to play the soundtrack from the most recent Star Wars movie. Kelley explained that she loved the feeling of being surrounded by people who were just as excited to play the music as she was, and appreciated the way that the music made her feel like she was a part of the movie.

As a fellow member of the Honors Chamber Orchestra, Allison Kim ‘19 plays with Kelley and admires her passion. “Maeve is really nice, generous, confident,” said Kim. “She has lots of talent in her and I can see her going very far with viola.”

Being able to inspire other instrumentalists and engaging in a shared passion is what Kelley loves most about being in an orchestra. “I think it’s being part of a group, being part of a team,” added Kelley. “I don’t play sports so I call orchestra my team sport!”

When she’s not practicing a piece or rehearsing with her classmates, you can find Kelley in the ceramics room, where she takes a wheel-throwing class. Art plays a big role in her life, and she expresses her creativity in a variety of mediums, whether it’s through music or clay.

Her absolute favorite activity remains playing viola, however. “It’s just so fun being with a group of people, whether it’s just 3 friends in a quartet, or 150 orchestra tour,” said Kelley. “You’re just all there, doing something really beautiful and great and fun and emotional, all together, and it’s just really great to be a part of a community like that.”


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