by: STAN MILKOWSKI - Dr. Mark Perlman conducts a performance of the Willamette Falls Symphony at an Oregon City Parks and Recreation summer concert in the park.The Willamette Falls Orchestra kicks off its 2012-13 season on Sunday, Nov. 11, with three very different pieces of music: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”; Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”; and Brouwer’s “Remembrances.”

“Our number one goal is to make a really good performance, playing the music we love,” said Mark Perlman, the music director and conductor of the orchestra since 2001, and a professor of philosophy at Western Oregon University.

The musicians will be ready to perform on Sunday, but one thing is crucial — community support.

“We need to have an audience; there are a lot of people who don’t know there’s an orchestra in Oregon City,” Perlman said.

Many of the members of the orchestra are Clackamas County residents, and most are volunteers.

“These are your friends and neighbors doing this, because it is their passion to play music. And this is in a small venue; at intermission we serve cookies and chat with the audience members — it is interactive,” Perlman said.

People from all walks of life make up the orchestra, he said, adding, “I try to make it fun for them, and they make it fun for me.”

Margie Arighi, the orchestra president, said that Perlman has a good rapport with the musicians and conducts with a relaxed and friendly style.

“He pushes the orchestra, but in a nice way, and his music choices have been wonderful,” she said, adding that the Stravinsky piece is difficult and attempted by very few community orchestras.

Classical music

Perlman chose the three pieces that the orchestra will play on Sunday, because each is “good in a different way.”

Beethoven’s “Pastoral” is the “pinnacle of symphonies,” and “The Firebird Suite,” is exciting, he said, adding, “One part of ‘Firebird’ is called ‘The Infernal Dance,’ and the whole orchestra goes crazy.”

Perlman chose Margaret Brouwer’s “Remembrances,” partly because she is a female composer, and “women composers don’t get very much exposure, and I wanted to take one step toward remedying that problem,” he said.

But he did not want to do just any piece by a female composer, and in listening to her work on a CD, he said, “this piece jumped out.”

Future events

Next up for the Willamette Falls Symphony Orchestra is a concert on March 17, so it should come as no surprise that the group will be doing Irish-themed music.

But as part of that concert, the orchestra will be joined by the winners of the Youth Concerto Competition.

The group holds this competition every two years, and in the past the entrants were limited to Clackamas County residents, but now any person between the ages of 12 to 19 may apply, Perlman said.

And in another effort to “emphasize the community aspect” of the orchestra, “we are sending out small groups of players to local events,” he noted.

A brass quartet played traditional wedding music for the renewal of vows ceremony at the recent Arch Bridge re-opening event, and another small group will play for an upcoming meeting of the Oregon City commissioners.

In addition to getting the word out that there is an orchestra in Oregon City, sending small groups out into the community has another benefit, Perlman said.

“It gives some of our musicians an opportunity to show their musicianship and it is fun for them to play with trios, quartets and quintets.”

And as for those who think it is too far to drive up Interstate 5 to Oregon City for a symphony, Perlman noted that he drives from Salem.

The Willamette Falls Symphony Orchestra

Under the direction of Dr. Mark Perlman, the orchestra will present its fall concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Oregon City United Methodist Church, 18955 South End Road.

It will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”; Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite” and Brouwer’s “Remembrances.”

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Children younger than 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. Tickets are available at the door.

For more information, visit the website at

The 2013 Youth Concerto Competition is now open to all musicians between the ages of 12 to 19; the deadline to apply is Dec. 7. The competition will be held on Jan. 12 at the Oregon City United Methodist Church, 18955 South End Road. Winners will receive a $100 cash award and will perform their piece at the Willamette Falls Symphony concert on March 17, 2013. For more information, visit the website listed above, click on Welcome, and scroll down to Youth Concerto Competition, or call 503-632-7267.

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