Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Itís not your average symphony

Wood River Community Orchestra to play Sunday in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Community Orchestra practices under the tutelage of Andy Lewis. Photo by

The Wood River Community Orchestra will celebrate three years of amateur inspiration this Sunday, May 23, with a performance of classical and popular music at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

The show—which starts at 3 p.m.—will feature the work of Mozart, Mendelsohn, Bordin and other composers. The event is free, but the nonprofit orchestra will accept donations to continue providing musical instruction and symphony performances for locals.

The Wood River Community Orchestra was formed in 2007 by Andy Lewis, a Sun Valley Summer Symphony percussionist and Blaine County School District music teacher. His goal was to provide an outlet for people of all ages and musical abilities. Today, the 20 or so members, who range in age from 16 to 83, meet every Sunday to practice.

"I believe Andy has successfully bridged the generation gap between young and old for music appreciation and awareness in the Wood River Valley," said violinist Karen Bliss, who had not played her instrument for 35 years until three years ago. "His enthusiasm, and confidence in his musicians, as well as his dedication and commitment to the joy of music, has been contagious."

< Lewis recruits new orchestra members by asking them if they play an instrument. If they answer, "None," he will ask, "Well, which one would you like to play?"

"All levels are welcome, from beginner to seasoned professional," said Lewis. "Our goal is enjoyment."

Cellist Dede Morris helped to start the Strings Program at the school district several years ago, but she found that adults with similar passion and talent had no musical outlet.

"Now, with the help of the Community Orchestra we have a place to bring our instruments and share and create music as a group. Most of us will never be solo players, but as a group we gain confidence and skills by interacting with one another. Those who are more experienced help those who are just beginning."

The orchestra is a member of the Wood River Arts Alliance, and partners with the Blaine County School District, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Footlight Dance Co. and other local arts organizations.

While focusing mainly on classical music, orchestra members also learn to play other styles—through playing with various musicians—including jazz, rock, folk and world music.

"The group's mission is to provide a place where community members who want to play music can do so, with other members of our community," Lewis said.

Lewis also offers coaching and lessons. For more information, contact Lewis at 928-6448. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Wood River Community Orchestra, Box 1628, Hailey, ID, 83333.

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