Westside Community and Youth Orchestra works to bridge the age gap through music
Adults and youth making music side by side — that's the core mission of the Westside Community and Youth Orchestra.
The Hillsboro-based orchestra brings young and old together to play music — and learn from one another, says artistic director Collin Heade.
"Older musicians often come back to music," after many years of not playing in an ensemble, "and they're excited to give back" by mentoring the younger members of the orchestra, Heade says. The younger members learn alongside seasoned musicians.
With about 67 musicians ranging in age from 8 to 80, the orchestra grew out of a small chamber group formed by Rob Archibald in 2007 to accompany the Intel Singers.
Before long, the small orchestra grew to include musicians of all ages from the wider community, including students, says board chairwoman Morgan Brown.
The Hillsboro School District didn't have a string program and it was at a time when other school districts across the metro area were cutting music programs due to budget woes, making it particularly difficult for string players to find ensembles to play in.
Now based at Liberty High School, the orchestra practices once a week and puts on two concerts each year, one in December and one in the spring. There's a concert slated for 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 5, at Liberty High School.
Heade has directed the group for five years. One of the best parts, he says, is watching the young musicians grow up and grow their musical skills over the years.
"I don't know of any other orchestra in the Portland area that does what we do," Heade says.
For his part, Heade likes to mix it up when selecting music for the group. There's the fun, recognizable stuff geared toward making the music accessible for both the musicians and the audience.
Then, there's the teacher in Heade, who likes to bring out some classical pieces that, he says, "are challenging to kids of all ages."
Last December, for example, the group worked with Liberty High School's choral program to learn and perform several parts from George Frideric Handel's "Messiah."
Over the years, Brown said, the orchestra has collaborated with many other groups in the community, including dance groups. At one concert, there were Irish dancers on stage performing alongside the orchestra.
The Westside Community and Youth Orchestra is a non-profit, and participation in the orchestra and the concerts are free to all.
"That's what sets us apart," Brown says.
The group draws musicians from all around the west side of the Portland metro area.
The group is looking for viola and double bass musicians to fill open spots.
More information on the group is available at www.WCYO.org.
On the program:
"The Wand of Youth"
Appalachian Morning - Robert Sheldon
The Wand of Youth, Suite 1, Op. 1a - Edward Elgar
Overture, Minuet, Fairies and Giants
Down a Country Lane - Aaron Copland
Highlights from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - John Williams, arr. Michael Story
Music from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Gregson-Williams, arr. Stephen Bulla
Symphony No. 25, 1st movement - Amadeus Mozart, arr. Jamin Hoffman
Country Gardens - Percy Grainger
The Typewriter - Leroy Anderson