David Douglas High students perform for Ten Grands

Here’s why international recording artist Michael Allen Harrison, stopped by David Douglas High School during a Concert Choir Class – and, how it’s connected to events downtown this weekend. And, find out about their performance here in outer East Portland to benefit Kiwanis charities on April 11 …

The David Douglas High School Concert Choir gets warmed up, under the baton of their director, Christopher D. Silva.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Concert Choir class at David Douglas High School (DDHS) was about to be interrupted just after noon on March 30.

But, this departure from the rehearsal session – led by their instructor, Christopher D. Silva, the school’s brilliant choral director and conductor of their musicals – was in anticipation of the arrival of an internationally-known composer and recording artist.

Soon, through the doors of the DDHS Howard Horner Performing Arts Center walked a familiar face – one that we typically associate with his alma mater, Parkrose High School –Michael Allen Harrison.

“I believe, for the first time, David Douglas High School’s Concert Choir is performing in our annual fundraiser for the Snowman Foundation,” Harrison told us. “They’ll be part of our big ‘Ten Grands for Kids’ shows on Thursday and Friday, April 1st and 2nd. We bus in about 11,000 kids to see matinee performances, so kids get to see and listen to classical music played on the ten grand pianos, by superb pianists, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.”

DDHS Choral Director, Christopher Silva, instructs choir members.

Along with the ten pianos will be a student choir, drawn from Portland area schools, some 400 singers strong. “As our big finale, we’re doing a Beethoven medley in these shows,” Harrison said. “The David Douglas High students will be sitting with other school’s choir members in the front rows. When it’s time for them to sing, they’ll stand up, turn around and face the audience, and all sing ‘Ode to Joy’, accompanied by the 10 concert grand pianos.”

Once he was inside the auditorium, Harrison’s face lit up as he heard the choir sing. Taking the stage, he complimented them on their performance, saying, “Wow! You all really sound wonderful!”

Silva welcomes Michael Allen Harrison to the stage.

Says school has already benefited
Harrison took over from Silva as he told the student singers what he expected, and led them in the performance.

“DDHS has already benefited from funds raised through past ‘Ten Grands’ concerts,” Silva informed us. “We received a new Boston Grand Piano a few years back, which we subsequently traded up to a 9-foot Baldwin Concert Grand.”

John Bier, the school’s Principal, smiled as he walked into the auditorium and heard the choir perform. “I think it’s fantastic that they can perform in the Ten Grands concerts. It’s a great opportunity for our students. And, it’s a good way to show off how well Christopher Silva has helped our students learn to sing so well.”

Michael Allen Harrison goes over the score with the choir members before he conducts Ode to Joy.

Tickets available for Saturday night’s show
Ten Grands features ten grand pianos and ten concert pianists playing a variety of classical and modern pieces, both simultaneously and individually.

Concert proceeds benefit The Snowman Foundation, which in turn benefits youth service groups, helps generate scholarships and music lessons for disadvantaged youth in Oregon and Southwest Washington and helps purchase pianos for schools and organizations in need.

The final performance is Saturday, April 3rd at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on SW Broadway St. in downtown Portland. To buy tickets, visit the TICKETMASTER website: CLICK HERE.

To learn more about The Snowman Foundation, see their website: CLICK HERE.

The Concert Choir rehearses music from their upcoming April 11 performance, right here at the school.

Enjoy the DDHS Concert Choir in East Portland on April 11
Closer to home, you can enjoy “An Evening of Music” on Sunday, April 11, when the East County Community Orchestra and David Douglas High School Concert Choir present a moving evening of musical entertainment.

Your $5 donation benefits the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp and Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program. Tickets can be purchased at the door. It’s at the Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Avenue (between SE Division and Stark Streets).

Tickets are available at the door. The doors open at 7:00 p.m.; the program begins at 7:30 p.m.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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