, / Ashley on ICP

For as long as I can remember, ICP has been an integral part of my life.

My family was introduced to the Intensive Community Program by one of our neighbors and close family friends. My parents thought it was an amazing opportunity, so they had my older brother audition. All I can remember of this day is my brother coming home with this monstrous instrument called the "double bass." From a young age, I remember sitting in my living room watching my brother learn his instrument and eagerly awaiting my turn! Like most younger siblings, I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an instrument.

My audition for ICP was the first audition of my life, but I wasn’t anxious. Instead, I was buzzing with excitement and curiosity about this world of music that I had always wondered about, but never had a way in.

From the beginning, ICP was a very welcoming environment and I was comforted by the fact that my brother was there, as well as Chad, our neighbor. This feeling of family support would only flourish as I grew up in the program. The people in ICP have become more than just members of an orchestra, but my closest friends. The basic structure of the program fosters strong bonds between us.

While members of ICP first begin to learn their instruments, the program is very group-based. From the very start, we are put into ensembles and learn to make music collaboratively. We are supported by the very dedicated faculty at ICP, who push us to be our best and provide us with the tools we need to mature as musicians. While the curriculum was intense, by doing it with the people who I enjoyed spending time with, my love for music only increased over time. As I grew older, music assumed a bigger and bigger role in my life.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories come from silly moments at ICP camp. Between weeks of summer camp, chamber rehearsals, and confused hours sitting in theory class, the friends that I have made through the program are some of the strongest that I have. The kids who I learned how to use my bow with are the same ones who sit in my chamber group as we rehearse a Debussy string quartet. They’re the same ones I text when I hear a crazy piece by Shostakovich and need someone who will share in my excitement. And they are the same ones with whom I get to play my first opera in January!

ICP, by helping me with my musical education, has opened up so many incredible doors to me that my seven-year-old self would never believe. This past June, I had the surreal opportunity to conduct the Boston Pops! The whole night felt like a dream as I looked across the orchestra and saw the faces of some of my teachers as well as cellists who I idolized. After the concert, I was smiling for weeks, and I owe that experience, which I will talk about for the rest of my life, to ICP and BYSO.

Another cool experience that I had was when my friend Emma and I got to go on a radio show to talk about our experiences as young musicians. The radio show was part of an organization called ZUMIX which provides teens with a platform to express their love of music. Their radio station has many different shows, each hosted by a talented teen from the Greater Boston area. We took a tour of their headquarters, uniquely located in an old fire station, and we got to see all of the work that goes on behind the scenes of the organization. All of the people who worked there had very interesting perspectives on music and current events, and we got to chat with one of the radio hosts about being members of a youth orchestra. We discussed all of the things that make BYSO and ICP unique and really incredible. While doing so, I realized how foreign all of the things we were talking about might be to other people and just how lucky we are to have had these experiences.

>> Listen to Ashley and Emma on ZUMIX radio here! 

As a teenager, my life is mostly spent doing regular kid things like homework and sports, but it is ICP and BYSO that is responsible for bringing so many of the extraordinary things in my life that I will always remember. Whether it’s playing at Symphony Hall, conducting the Boston Pops, or making the my best friendships, I can point to my musical education as the catalyst.

Ashley, conducting the Boston Pops in 2018.
Photo by Frank Curran
May 29, 2011:

Young Ashley participates in a recital in the Marshall Room at BU's College of Fine Arts.
Ashley and brother Conor on their way to ICP rehearsal.
Ashley and Emma posing for a picture this past summer, as recipients of the John Hancock Summer Scholars Program summer work internship at BYSO.