News Academics

Backing the Rockettes

 The Rockettes have performed their signature chorus line in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 82 years. Their high kicks and choreographed precision have more than a million people abuzz every holiday season.

Backing the dancers are equally precise musicians in the Radio City Orchestra. Maxwell-Doherty earned one of the prestigious orchestra spots during this season’s run. He’s thrilled to be taking part in this fantastic and demanding show, which began mid-November and runs through the beginning of January with 204 performances.

“It’s truly a marathon,” Maxwell-Doherty says. “During most weeks, there are 32 performances with as many as six shows a day.”

But the opportunity to use his craft and training is well worth it. He’s been building that mental and physical stamina for years through his undergrad training at Concordia, his master’s training at the University of Arizona and now finishing his doctoral work there.

“You might think it would be easy to play the same 90-minute show over and over again, but it is precisely when you relax and take your mind off the performance that you miss a note,” Maxwell-Doherty says.

Dr. David Eyler, Concordia’s Percussion Ensemble and Marimba Choir conductor, knows Maxwell-Doherty is up to the challenge. Eyler believes he’s one of the most gifted and serious percussion students he’s ever mentored.

“While at Concordia, he excelled in all areas of percussion performance from the traditional instruments like snare drum, marimba and timpani to West African drumming ensembles,” Eyler says. “That tremendous versatility has allowed him to work in numerous musical venues in New York City and now finally the door has opened for him to become a member of the orchestra for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes.”

With a million spectators each season, that’s a lot of exposure. Maxwell-Doherty says the best part of the experiences is seeing the excitement in the eyes of the young children who attend the show.

“Looking into the audience of 5,500 excited faces reminds me of my first experience walking onto the stage of Memorial Auditorium for the annual Christmas Concert,” Maxwell-Doherty says. “The excitement, the joy, the humility and importance in using your craft as an instrument of hope and inspiration – it’s the same feeling at Radio City.”