Performers include Gresham fifth-grader

The Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra concludes its 2013-14 concert season Sunday, May 18, with student guest performers from Gresham and Happy Valley.

Violinist Colton Swift, a fifth-grader at Phonics Phactory, will perform the “Violin Concerto in A Minor” by Antonio Vivaldi.

The other featured performer is Sierra Ha, a freshman at Clackamas High School. She will perform “Violin Concerto in G” by Mozart.

Swift and Ha were this year’s winners of the Pops’ “Youth Soloist” competition held in March.

Meanwhile, guest conductor Ian Kerr will lead the orchestra in “Saturday Night Waltz” from “Rodeo” by Aaron Copland, “A Richard Rodgers Portrait,” “Music from Titanic” and the first movement of “Symphony No. 3” by Schumann.

Swift slows downby: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Colton Swift hopes to lead his own chamber group someday.

Colton Swift says the Vivaldi piece “has lots of fast and dynamic parts that are fun to master.” There’s a catch, however.

“It is difficult for me not to speed up too fast sometimes,” he says.

The fifth-grader’s favorite composer is Mendelssohn, “because of his awesome ‘Concerto in E minor.’”

He adds that his favorite violinists include his teacher, Carol Taylor, as well as Lindsey Sterling, Itzhak Perlman and Hillary Hahn.

Swift belongs to the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Strings and last summer won a scholarship to The Oregon Suzuki Institute summer camp, where he was introduced to his first orchestra and chamber group experiences. He also performs at church and retirement center events.

Even though he’s only 10, Swift is already looking toward his future as an adult musician.

“I am interested in becoming a professional violinist and starting a chamber group of my own,” he says.

Sierra’s songby: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Sierra Ha is an award-winning violinist.

Ha has played violin for a decade.

“I fell in love with the violin when I saw a violinist play at the Oregon Symphony,” she says. “Soon after that I begged my parents for violin lessons.”

Like Swift, she’s a fan of Hahn, whose violin music has graced the soundtracks of such movies as “The Village” and “The Deep Blue Sea.”

“I like her style of playing, and I enjoy listening to her recordings in my spare time,” Ha says.

Ha plays in her school’s chamber orchestra and placed first in this year’s Oregon Music Education Association District 13 Violin Competition.

“I enjoy playing the violin because I like listening to the music that I make,” she says. “Playing the violin soothes me and helps me focus.”

She has to be careful about developing tendonitis and notes, “It’s hard to balance practicing with school and other activities.” Nonetheless, she still finds time not only for violin but for the harp, and the erhu (a Chinese two-stringed instrument).

“I plan in the future to continue to play music, even if not as a primary career,” she says.

Kerr conducts

Guest conductor Ian Kerr is a graduate of Portland State University and a skilled percussionist. He currently performs with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra. He adds that “conducting is a passion from early on in my music training, and I try to keep it in my life as much as I can while keeping my performance schedule.”

Conducting is rewarding, he says.

“You never know what surprises will be around the next corner in a live setting,” he says. “Being at the front of the stage with all of the sound of the orchestra passing by is also quite a rush.”

He says that Sunday’s concert offers something for everyone.

“Whether you like loud and fast or slow and gentle, there will be a piece for you.”

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