Local musician looks to start community orchestra
Eric Samuels has a vision for Park City. He wants to create an orchestra.
His reasoning is simple. While the area is home to a nonprofit music school the Utah Conservatory and several high school musical groups, the Wasatch Back lacks a community orchestra, but after talking to Park City High School orchestra director Dennis Harrington, Samuels decided to start one.
"We’re taking a list," he said. "I’ve got a list of 10 or 20 people who have shown interest."
Samuels said the group the Park City/Summit County Youth Orchestra and Choir, would include both students fifth grade and above and adults and would focus on music education and performance. The orchestra, he noted, would offer adults a chance to play their instruments, while kids would gain some extra practice and performance time.
"They’re kids that are a little more motivated and who don’t want to play a band," said Samuels. "They want to play in an orchestra."
The idea, he said, is to create a performance group where aspiring musicians can learn and play, foster proper techniques and improve practice procedures.
"You’ve got to start with education, or nobody’s going to want to come and hear it," Samuels noted. "Until you’re a professional musician in the Utah Symphony, your focus is on learning and preparation."
So, the group’s purpose is clear, and according the Samuels, that aim should be achievable with almost any sized group of students and players.
In addition to orchestral work, he said the organization could break down into chamber music groups like string quartets and brass quintets either when classes are small or the players want some variety. The format, he added, should push students to learn while giving them ample chances to perform and allowing them to hear their music as they play.
Along with the instrumental pieces the orchestra will also be set up to accept singers, incorporating vocalists into its lineup. Samuels said he wants to create a choir for much the same reasons he wants to make a community orchestra.
"We are going to fill in the choir need because there really is no youth choir in the community," he said.
Samuels noted that while the groups might start off small, he believes that demand exists for them.
"Even if it starts small with 25 or 50 people," Samuels said, "it’ll spread by word of mouth."
Ideally, he noted, the groups could be divided into two levels, with one for students still learning a lot about music and another for more experienced players.
Right now, however, Samuels said he just wants to get the group started, so the organization can start attracting more attention within the community.
"I would like to start immediately," he said.
The group should begin meeting the week of March 20, if all goes according to plan. Samuels said he planned to organize the class by semesters, with tuition of between $100 and $200 per semester, depending on the number of students in the choir and orchestra.
The community orchestra and choir will be nonprofit groups. Samuels said the groups would perform once or twice each semester.
"We’re thinking of four or five formal concerts per year," he noted. "We’ll be spreading those concerts around the community."
The shows have potential locations in Park City, Coalville, Kamas and the Heber Valley, making sure to incorporate communities up and down the Wasatch Back.
Samuels said he is looking forward to starting the practices. And while the group will need support from the community and musicians to survive, he thinks its potential is immense.
"It’s a sleeping giant," he said.
For information and to register for the Park City/Summit County Youth Orchestra and Choir, call 658-4943 or e-mail the orchestra and choir’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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