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Rekindling the symphony in Estacada

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Drums are one of the many instruments played by members of the  Oregon Symphony Percussion Quartet. The group will perform at the Estacada Auditorium on Monday, Sept. 12.Soon, the sounds of a variety of percussion instruments will come to Estacada.

On Monday, Sept. 12, the Oregon Symphony Percussion Quartet will spend the day in town.

The quartet, which consists of the Symphony’s principal and assistant principal percussionists, will perform for students at the middle school during the day and the community during the evening. Additionally, the musicians will work with eighth-grade students in small groups, allowing them to see the instruments up close.There will be opportunities for students to meet with the musicians to discuss playing tips and techniques.

Jane Reid of Estacada Together, the group sponsoring the performance, said she’s glad to continue to connect students with music.

“We’re excited to expose them to a new world of music,” she said.

Ried noted that Estacada’s relationship with the Oregon Symphony actually dates back several years.

From 2006-07, Estacada was the recipient of the symphony’s community music partnership grant. During this time, the symphony held six performances in Esacada and connected with all of the district’s music teachers.

Reid is eager to rekindle the connection.

“We love being able to expose a new batch of young people to that level of professional musicianship, and to musicians who love what they do and love sharing it with others,” she said.

Niel DePonte, a member of the quartet, is eager to introduce students and the community to the range of percussion instruments that the group plays. Percussion instruments are usually played by scraping, shaking striking or rubbing.

A typical percussionist can play up to 100 instruments, ranging from the marimba and glockenspiel to snare drums and bamboo sticks.

DePonte said the possibilities for percussion instruments are practically limitless.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Members of the Oregon Symphony Percussion Quartet incorporate a variety of instruments in their performances.

“Almost anything can be a percussion instrument,” he said. “It just depends on your intent when you approach it. We are the discoverers of sound possibilities.”

Monica Hayes, education and community engagement program director for the Oregon Symphony, said the quartet makes approximately four school visits per year. She believes the wide variety of instruments is what makes the performance memorable.

“It’s not a very typical performance,” she said. “It’s very fun and engaging. You have to come and see it to believe it.”

Additionally, the instruments can be utilized in many different ways.

“People often think of drums as a loud instrument, but they can be as delicate as a violin if you choose to play it that way,” DePonte said.

In addition to playing live music, the musicians will also discuss how the instruments work.

DePonte explained that one piece featured sticks of different lengths, which make different pitches when hit.

DePonte enjoys introducing students to the wide variety of percussive instruments. He particularly likes showing instruments to the students while they’re in smaller groups.

“They get close to instruments in a way that we could never do in a concert hall,” he said.

DePonte hopes the performance piques student interest in music.

“We love getting them fired up about music, and how meaningful and fun it is,” he said. “Hopefully we inspire them to do a bit more research.”

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