Harwood Union senior Molly Caffry (right) at a rehearsal with the Counterpoint singers and director Nathaniel Lew (second from right). Photo courtesy Music-COMP

Harwood Union High School senior Molly Caffry, Waitsfield, is having a big week marking the culmination of a special project as one of her original musical compositions is featured in a series of free holiday concerts around Vermont. 


A Friday, December 16, performance in Newport was called off due to the snowstorm, but that was after the first two in Woodstock and Warren took place. Concerts in Grafton and Manchester are also planned.

Performing in their annual holiday tour is a brass quintet of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra along with the professional vocal group Counterpoint. The conductor is Nathaniel Lew, a professor of music and music history at Saint Michael’s College. 

As is the tradition for the holiday performances, one piece on the program is a premiere of a student work presented through a collaboration with the nonprofit music education organization Music-COMP. The partnership has been happening for the past decade or so and executive director Matt LaRocca, who also works with the VSO, said students usually produce an instrumental piece. This year, however, Caffry’s creation for the choir was chosen.

“It's a very special moment for her and our music community,” LaRocca said. 

Stefanie Weigand, formerly Harwood Union High School’s choral teacher, now works alongside LaRocca at Music-COMP. The extracurricular effort pairs student composers with professionals as mentors. In Caffry’s case, she’s been writing music since seventh grade with the encouragement of her Harwood music teacher, band director Chris Rivers, who steered Caffry to the Music COMP opportunity. She plays the trombone in band and writes for piano and strings. This week her piece, “If Fire Danced with Fire,” is on the program for each of the VSO/Counterpoint holiday concerts. 

“It’s a really, really big honor,” Weigand said. 

In a video interview with Thea Braren at the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Caffry talks about the project that uses historical texts by Queen Mary of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I. “I love history,” Caffry said, describing the inspiration as poems where the two royals discuss their grievances. “I mashed those up together and then at the end I turned it into a more major-sounding song,” she says. 

Looking ahead to the performances, Caffry said she was “so excited to hear people put passion behind the song … and to be able to talk to the people singing the song.”