Two local sisters, both students at Rockland’s Watershed School, will perform violin on the popular National Public Radio show “From the Top” Monday night, April 26. Josie and Sophie Davis of Waldoboro will play a movement from Bach’s double violin concerto on the 8 p.m. broadcast, which was recorded last month at a sold-out show at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.

The Boston-based radio show, which is hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley and spotlights the best student classical musicians from around the country, has more than 700,000 listeners. The show mixes performances with skits and lively interviews that highlight young musicians who work hard at their craft but also are regular kids who have fun.

To be considered for the show, the sisters had to send in recordings of contrasting pieces, which were evaluated by the show’s staff, said Josie, an 18-year-old senior who has blogged about the experience on the Watershed Web site ( They found out three weeks before the show that they were accepted, “which wasn’t much time to get prepared,” she said.

But 15-year-old Sophie, a sophomore, said the show’s staff made them feel at ease.

“On the night of the show, I was a little nervous, but the people on the show are so nice and they know how to keep you relaxed. They do it every week and they have the process streamlined, but they also make it feel special – like your show is the first one they’ve ever done,” she said.

One way the show’s producers ease jitters is a pre-recorded dress rehearsal on the day of the actual show. In that rehearsal, the performers record their pieces bar by bar, repeating lines that aren’t well executed, yielding a perfect backup recording that can be used if the evening performance, in front of the live audience, does not measure up.

“That made the final concert much more laid back,” said Josie, who recently was accepted into next year’s freshman class at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Both sisters said pianist O’Riley was an impressive host. They met him the night before the show at a master class he taught for participants.

“He was very accomplished, and he gave us great feedback,” said Josie.

During the show, the girls were asked what it was like to play together as sisters.

“We said we’re really close and have a lot of fun and how nice it is growing up in a state without a lot of competitive pressure,” said Josie.

Students who appear on the show are also expected to participate in local educational programs to introduce young people to classical music. The day after the show was recorded, the Davis sisters performed for students at Portland’s Learning Works, a school program for immigrants and disadvantaged families.

Before attending Watershed, both girls were home schooled for two years. The Watershed School, based in Rockland’s Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education, attracts students who are seeking a demanding intellectual environment in the context of a small and supportive learning community. The eight-year-old school has also been accepted as a candidate for accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For more information about the Watershed School, call 594-1873 or visit

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to