This weekend, three young musicians born and bred in Maine are returning from their studies in Boston to perform, conduct a free workshop, visit friends and family and enjoy being back in the place they grew up.

Maya French of Belfast, Elizabeth Moore of Cushing' and Nikolai Renedo of Orono play together in the musician-led orchestra Palaver Strings, an innovative group of exciting young string players based in Boston. The three grew up playing together. Their paths converging at Bay Chamber Music School in Rockport, where they participated in the school's Odeon Ensemble Program. In Odeon, they found valuable opportunities to perform in a variety of orchestra and chamber music configurations — and had a lot of fun in the process.

"There aren't many classical music opportunities in Maine, but I was lucky to be part of a small family of string students who grew up playing together in various ensembles," said French, a violinist since childhood.

Midcoast music fans fondly remember McFravis, the talented group that included her sister, mother, aunt and two cousins. This spring, French will graduate from Boston University with a degree in Violin Performance. Palaver Strings was partly inspired by the Odeon experience," said French. Renedo, who named his beloved cello Maurice, also noted the longstanding relationship with French and Moore.

"I've been playing music with fellow Mainahs and Palaverinos Maya and Lizzie since we all were kids," said Renedo, who is studying biology and philosophy at Tufts University in Boston, with an eye toward a career in medicine.

Viola player Moore moved to Boston in 2012, after growing up in Cushing, and said she was lucky to have been surrounded by music at an early age, "and I cannot remember a time when my focus was anything else.”

Whether it was playing fiddle in the family contra dance band; violin and viola in various chamber and orchestral groups through Bay Chamber Music School; or singing every chance there was, she kept busy with one musical activity or another. After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Moore recently earned a master of music degree from Boston University College of Fine Arts. She is now a certified Suzuki violin and viola teacher, launching a new studio in the greater Boston area.

"In 2007, Maya, Elizabeth and Nikolai all played together in Odeon's Advanced Ensemble, directed by Gilda Joffe," said

Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School Executive Director Monica Kelly. "It was an amazing time, with such a talented group of young musicians, all about the same age, working at a very high level. For me, it's a dream come true to welcome them back as professionals."

Palaver Strings will perform Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m. in Union Hall, capping the Bay Chamber’s spring Music@Dusk series of informal, after-work concerts; see the story linked below for more information.

The group also will present a free workshop for string students Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. at Bay Chamber Music School, top floor of 18 Central St. The theme of the workshop is Building a Great Performance, with a focus on new ways of improving communication skills in rehearsals and performances. Space is limited; to register please, contact Joan Kulle at or 236-2823.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or