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Pacific ensembles fete 10 years with free concert

Oregon selections, a bit of 'Star Wars' to mark Friday evening event

Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - There will be a free concert Friday, Nov. 14, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles. Pacific Philharmonic and Chamber Ensembles will celebrate its 10th anniversary Friday with a free concert that includes two Oregon premier selections and a bit of “Star Wars.”

Dr. Bryce Seliger, who started the Pacific University orchestral program in 2004, will conduct the concert.

Pacific brought Seliger on board to organize the program. Pacific didn’t have an orchestra for at least a decade. The program has grown to include a 75-member orchestra, a growing strings program, solo opportunities, and one full-time and three adjunct instructors.

Pacific Philharmonic is comprised of about 25 percent music majors and the rest come from other undergraduate programs, alumni and community members.

Musicians hail from as far away at Eugene, Salem and Portland, as well as western Washington County. They participate in weekly three-hour rehearsals and two concerts every year.

Seliger attempts to offer varied musical experiences, and in the past has even arranged for a Pacific ensemble to play with the rock band Kansas.

Seliger said she’s always watching for opportunities to perform with groups from other musical genres, especially if they already have orchestral arrangements.

“My goal is to train students to higher levels of musical excellence,” she said. “The problem is that we train them and when they get good, they graduate and leave.”

Those who stay in the area often return to play with Pacific ensembles.

Friday’s concert will feature two multi-media presentations, which Seliger is keeping under wraps until the concert.

One premier piece is “CATcerto,” a film of Nora the Cat featured as piano soloist via film footage played to live orchestral accompaniment by Lithuanian composer Mindaugas Piecaitis.

The second is “Vox Humana” by American composer, Dr. Michael Schelle, who will attend the concert while serving as Visiting Composer-in-Residence at Pacific.

Schelle will give two free public talks on Thursday, “Schellemusik” at 1 p.m. and “Film Music: The Gold Chain Around the Hairy Neck of Hollywood” at 7 p.m., both at McCready Hall.

“It is a very different experience to play with the music’s composer in the audience,” said Seliger.

Also on Friday’s program will be chamber ensembles performing Pachelbel’s “Canon & Gigue” and Richard Strauss’ “Sextet from Capriccio,” as well as the Pacific Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s “Seventh Symphony” and John Williams’ “Imperial March,” music that portrays “Star Wars’” villain Darth Vader.

Seliger, a flute player, said her own musical interests lean more to Brahms than to social media sensations, but likes “to choose music that players and the community want.”

And while Pacific celebrates its music program’s 10th anniversary, Seliger is already looking ahead to its next 10 years with a plan to establish a youth orchestra for middle and high school students from local communities.

Friday’s concert starts at 7:30 p.m., in McCready Hall in the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Building on the corner of Pacific Highway and Cedar Street, Forest Grove.

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