Community Orchestra performs June 5
Free concert features Strauss, Tchaikovsky
Without even knowing it, youve likely heard Johan Strauss An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314, one of several pieces the East County Community Orchestra will perform at a free 3 p.m. concert on Sunday, June 5, in David Douglas High School, 1400 S.E. 130th Ave.
The waltzs full English title is By the Beautiful Blue Danube, but the orchestral piece is popularly known by the shorter title Blue Danube and has been used in such movies as 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as numerous commercials and cartoons.
The orchestras director, Roger G. Nickerson, notes Strauss originally composed the piece in 1866, and premiered its orchestral version for the 1867 Paris Worlds Fair. Nickerson says Blue Danube is one of several pieces emphasizing our Waltz into Spring theme, and adds the orchestra also will perform Strauss Emperor Waltz.
In addition to the Waltz Kings pieces, the orchestra will tackle the On to Victory March from J.P. Sousas operetta The Free-Lance, and Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky, the latter performed by numerous ballet companies each Christmas season, Nickerson says. He adds that the orchestra will also perform tunes for Lerner and Loewes My Fair Lady, as well as music to commemorate Memorial Day, a medley called Armed Forces: The Pride of America.
Minds on music
Founded in 1978, the nonprofit East County Community Orchestra boasts 75 professional and amateur musicians, and membership is open to musicians in the Portland-Vancouver area. Members range in age from 40 to 90, and Nickerson has directed the group since 2014.
A resident of Oregon City, Nickerson has worked in both public education and music ministry, particularly for the United Methodist Church, and also served as interim director of the Willamette Falls Symphony in 2000. He enjoys directing ECCO for a variety of reasons.
I find the group musically exciting and willing to improve their musical skills, he says. The group is like having a very large family that really enjoys being together. Our general focus is to share our love and joy of performance with the audience.
L. Jean Graham plays second violin in the orchestra, and also serves as president of the orchestras board of directors. She says shes particularly excited to play a medley from the musical Showboat at the upcoming concert.
Its just a nice arrangement, and its familiar to everyone, she says, noting the medley includes such classic tunes as Ol Man River. As a violinist, being a part of that performance is fun and lighthearted, and the rhythms and melodies make it special.
As for the orchestra itself, Graham has played with it since 2007, and agrees with Nickersons take on the musicians camaraderie.
There are orchestras where people just play with each other, but then pack up and go once theyre finished, she says. But the people in East County Community Orchestra are genuinely interested in each other, and we visit with one another and some of us are close friends.
If you go
WHO: East County Community Orchestra
WHAT: Spring Concert
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, June 5
WHERE: Horner Performing Arts Center, David Douglas High School, 1400 S.E. 130th Ave.
COST: Free, donations welcome