Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo To Speak At Kendall Square Orchestra's Annual Symphony For Science Concert

Led by music director Kristo Kondakçi, K2O will perform works by Joan Tower, Alexander Borodin, Florence Price and Gustav Holst.

By: May. 11, 2022
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Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo To Speak At Kendall Square Orchestra's Annual Symphony For Science Concert

The Kendall Square Orchestra (K2O) is helping improve STEM literacy for girls with a night of music and storytelling at Symphony Hall on May 23rd at 7:30 PM. Symphony for Science will benefit the Science Club for Girls, which highlights the critical importance of mentorship and STEM literacy for girls from underrepresented communities.

Led by music director Kristo Kondakçi, K2O will perform works by Joan Tower, Alexander Borodin, Florence Price and Gustav Holst. The program will be emceed by Boston's beloved radio voice Candy O'Terry, featuring world class soloists playing alongside an ensemble of 70+ musicians drawn from over 50 institutions in the Kendall Square community, and talks by a Nobel Prize winner Esther Duflo and others. Tickets are on sale now at

Symphony of Science will begin with Joan Tower's Sixth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. Tower is often hailed as a pioneer for women composers as an artist who started her career during the 1960s during an era when female names were not found as readily in the concert program. Each of her fanfares, which playfully riff on the name of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, are dedicated to noteworthy women who are "risk-takers and adventurers."

Second on the program is Alexander Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia. A scientist and women's rights advocate in his own right, Borodin helped found the first medical course for women in Russia. In his romantic In the Steppes of Central Asia, Borodin takes the audience on a journey following a thriving caravan across the 19th century Russian empire.

The program continues with Florence Price's Violin Concerto No. 2. One of the first African-American women to be nationally recognized as a composer, and the first African-American woman to have her works performed by a major American orchestra, Florence Price was a pioneer in her field. Her Violin Concerto No. 2 highlights two themes. The primary features rhythmic and harmonic elements from juba dance, and the secondary theme showcases aspects of Price's style: the orchestra as a duet partner for the soloist; pairing of strings and brass instruments to create a warm, round timbre; and creative ways to bring familiar material in conversation with new polyphonic settings.

Symphony of Science will conclude with Gustav Holst's Jupiter from the Planets. Holst spent much of his career improving opportunities for women in music. He taught music at the St. Paul's girls' schools in London for 41 years and many of his students went on to become professional musicians, including in fields that were almost exclusively male at the time. In Jupiter from the Planets, Holst portrays Jupiter's supposedly characteristic "abundance of life and vitality" with music that is buoyant and exuberant.

Throughout the night, several speakers will also share a message about the importance of STEM education for young women and the important work that the Science Club for Girls does. Speakers include Nobel Prize winner Esther Duflo who has dedicated her work to understanding and improving the economic lives of the poor and Kaelyn Brown, a student with Science Club for Girls at the age of six. Kaelyn remained active with the organization through college when she recently graduated from Harvard with a degree in Neuroscience. Alejandra Carvajal, Board Chair for the Science Club for Girls and Elena Spencer, Cofounder of Kendall Square Orchestra will also address the audience. Boston Radio personality Candy O'Terry will be the Master of Ceremonies for the night.

Science Club for Girls addresses a critical need, offering a continuum of engaging activities in STEM for K-8 girls, junior mentoring and leadership experiences for high school girls, and adult mentoring and role modeling by committed women with STEM careers.

"As a female scientist, I am passionate about breaking down barriers that still exist for women in STEM and promoting mentorship to uplift the next generation of girls towards careers in STEM," said Elena Spencer, K2O co-founder. "I am also passionate about music's ability to connect and uplift diverse communities and inspire them towards action. This is what the Symphony for Science is all about."

Symphony for Science is Kendall Square Orchestra's annual benefit concert that brings together local corporate sponsors, community organizations, and audiences to raise awareness, funds, and hope for healthcare and STEM education causes. Since the inaugural Symphony for Science in 2019, Kendall Square Orchestra has donated over $90,000 in funds to local benefiting organizations.

Founded in 2018, Kendall Square Orchestra is the product of friendship and passion for music set to the backdrop of life in the biopharmaceutical industry. K2O also seeks to support industry and community events related to healthcare & education and promote community engagement, teamwork, and leadership. An important part of the orchestra's activity includes creating events that bring together partners from the patient, medical, and industry communities to support progress towards treatment of difficult diseases.


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