Interview with Terry Smith, Commons Series Co-Chair

Terry Smith

Terry Smith

Our Commons Series is going strong in its third year. In honor of our Centennial, our programming for 2017-18 was developed with members of our community (alumni, students, parents) as presenters and participants. We are pleased to present an extraordinarily aural experience for our next family-friendly event at 6:30 on December 13th. This Music and Community program is free and open to the public.


I recently sat down with Terry Smith, Head of our Lower School and Co-programmer of our series, to learn more.


Q: This program is focused on two Harley strengths: music and community. How did you decide to develop this idea?


A: The Harley School community has many current and past parents who are involved in the music industry, whether as professors, performers, conductors, soloists, composers, private instructors, artistic directors, or camp organizers.


I was curious to learn, What do they think about the connection between music and building community? How have they seen music bring people together in their careers and experiences?


This was the inspiration for developing this program.


Q: All of the participants are current Harley parents—that’s pretty cool. Who will be there?


A: Our featured guests are:

Steve Grills (P ’24)

He’s a blues singer and guitarist with Steve Grills and the Roadmasters. He is also a recording artist and touring musician.


Kristy Houston (P ’25)

She is our band director (MS/US), conductor of Rochester Women’s Community Chorus, and plays flute in the Greater Rochester Music Educators Wind Band.


Gaelen McCormick (P ’26)

She is a professional bass player, private instructor, chamber musician, author and internationall workshop presenter. She is also the coordinator of a summer music camp through the Eastman Community Music School.


Tigran Vardanyan (P ’32)

He is a professional violinist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, instructor at Nazareth College, as well as a chamber and solo musician.


Additionally, the panel will be moderated by you, Terry (P ’19, ’21). I’m going to stick your bio. Information in here as well!

Terry Smith is the Head of our Lower School, oboe instructor at Hochstein School of Music & Dance, oboist in the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and Cordancia, co-director of Rogue Music Education Conference, and founder of the Bebop to Bach family music series.


Q: With all of this outstanding talent in one room, I imagine there will be music and discussion. Can you tell us about what will be happening?


My programming co-chair, Seth O’Bryan, had the brilliant idea for each member of the panel to share a piece of music that makes them think of music and community, or has reflected that in their past.


We will likely explore this through a mix of live music, recordings and maybe even a sing-a-long. Who knows, with such a synergy, there may be spontaneous improvisation that happens! With the firm guiding belief that all humans are musical, the audience is invited to participate with their questions, as well as their own musical contributions!