Current Issue

Feb. 24, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 9

alumni profile

 Classical instruments rock

By Katherine Federici Greenwood
Published on February 22, 2010

Members of the Brooklyn-based Miracles of Modern Science: front, Kieran Ledwidge ’08, violin; standing, from left,   Josh Hirshfeld ’08, mandolin; Evan Younger ’08, double bass; Tyler Pines ’09, drums; and Geoff McDonald ’07, cello. (Photo: Elizabeth Lemione)

Given the instruments in the young ensemble Miracles of Modern Science — double bass, mandolin, violin, and cello — you might expect to hear chamber or blue-grass music. However, the fifth member — a drummer — gives a clue that all is not as it might seem. The members of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band, five musicians who met at Princeton, are either classically trained or jazz aficionados. Yet this indie orchestral rock band with its acoustic classical instruments likes to think that “we rock as hard as a real rock band,” says Evan Younger ’08, who sings lead vocals and plays double bass.  

The band, which first played at Princeton’s Café Vivian in Frist Campus Center in 2005, has been landing steady gigs at venues around New York City as well as colleges in the Northeast, including a November performance at the Princeton University Art Museum. Spin Magazine named the band one of 2009’s “25 Must-Hear Artists” at the CMJ Music Marathon. Miracles of Modern Science, wrote JezebelMusic.com, produces “some of the most creative, catchy, and purely fun music in New York City ... consistently delivers danceable rhythms and ­spirited melodies ... [and] create[s] a sound that is elaborate and cinematic.”  

On the band’s Web site, the members call themselves “orchestra dropouts and jazz-band rejects,” which is only partly true. Younger says he “blew” his audition for the concert-jazz ensemble. And Josh Hirshfeld ’08, who sings and plays mandolin, auditioned for jazz band, but there was no spot for his instrument. The two started collaborating — and on a whim came up with the name of the band. Before long they asked two members of the University Orchestra, cellist Geoff McDonald ’07 and violinist Kieran Ledwidge ’08, to join the group. To round out the rock-band sound, drummer Tyler Pines ’09, who has a jazz background, came aboard.

In October 2008 the group released online a four-track free EP — songs band members had recorded in their dorm rooms and apartments. This winter they reduced their performance schedule to focus on recording their first full-length album, which they hope to self-produce and release this spring.  

One of the more challenging issues of the band’s work is writing lyrics. Typically they compose the instrumental parts and melodies, but struggle with the words. Says Younger, “None of us are poets.” 


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CURRENT ISSUE: Feb. 24, 2010

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Audio and Video: Miracles of Modern Science
Watch the Miracles of Modern Science perform their song “Bossa Supernova,” and hear an additional pair of song tracks.