By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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SEQUIM –– As it celebrates reaching the ripe old age of 2, the Sequim Community Orchestra is looking to spread a love of the classics to a new generation.
“We're the oldest 2-year-old you'll ever see,” said Lilias Green, orchestra president.
Throughout its second year, the orchestra has been reaching out to children.
Since October, orchestra members and director Phil Morgan-Ellis have helped 22 students take on violins and cellos in a beginners strings class held after school Tuesdays and Thursdays at Greywolf Elementary School in Carlsborg.
“It's really been something to see these children pick it up,” Morgan-Ellis said. “They've really come a long way.”
The orchestra's second anniversary concert will be at 7 p.m. today at Trinity Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
Admission is free.
The program includes special performances and attractions aimed at the youth set.
“We are hoping to attract families to this performance with some special activities for the kids,” Morgan-Ellis said.
Tonight's program includes music from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst — “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” — as well as a fantasy arrangement of “Sleepers, Awake!” by Bach, the finale from the “Farewell Symphony,” plus selections from Brahms and Mahler.
Morgan-Ellis plans to involve the audience in the program with special games, including a special version of “Name That Tune.”
“It was new on the charts when Mahler used it in his first symphony,” Morgan-Ellis said, giving a mild hint.
For the half-hour preceding the concert, the orchestra's musicians will gather in the foyer to allow budding aficionados to inspect the players' instruments.
“There really is no better way to get children into music than to put an instrument in their hands,” Green said.
Which is why the orchestra started the schools program.
The Sequim school district did not offer students strings in its music program.
“There are bands here but no real string programs,” Green said. “So to be able to do this is great.”
Students like the program, as well.
Zoe Moore, a student at Helen Haller Elementary School, said the violin is a family tradition.
“My aunt plays violin, and I always wanted to learn how to play, to kind of follow in her footsteps,” Zoe said.
“It's got a great sound, and it's really a lot of fun to find the right finger spots,” cellist Henry Hughes said. “I may not always get it, but I'm getting better.”
More classes sought
Green said 35 students signed up for the class, but limited space and instruments meant not all of them got in the class.
“We're hoping to be able to expand it as we move forward,” she said.
“We'd really love to be able to have classes at Helen Haller, as well, in the future.”
The program is funded by grants and donations, with a $3,000 grant from the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation footing a large portion of the bill.
Students from Helen Haller are bused by the school district to Greywolf for the special classes.
Growing the orchestra
Green said the program also has a bit of an ulterior motive for the orchestra.
By grooming young players on stringed instruments, Green said, the orchestra hopes to add these students to its roster in the coming years.
“Hopefully, they can boost our violins and violas in the next couple years,” she said.
When launched in February 2012, the orchestra had 27 members, Green said.
Tonight's show will include 40 musicians, including four trumpets and five cellos.
To help, community members can donate instruments and/or money for the orchestra's Sponsor a Child program.
The orchestra is in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3), but tax-deductible donations temporarily fall under the fiscal sponsorship of the Olympic View Community Foundation.
For more information on the strings class and the Sequim Community Orchestra, visit www.sequimcommunityorchestra.org or contact Lili Green at email@example.com or 360-681-5469.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.