East County Orchestra greets New Year with rousing concert

Maybe someday you’ll be able to hear their concert on our website. But, for now, see what you missed if you didn’t attend their annual Winter Concert …

The East County Community Orchestra performs their Winter Concert of audience favorites at David Douglas High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As they have for the past three decades, members of the all-volunteer East County Community Orchestra (ECCO) presented their Winter Concert on January 13 in the Horner Auditorium at the David Douglas High School Performing Arts Center.

Again under the baton of Jack Mahoney, their program started with The Star Spangled Banner.

The musicians kicked off the first half of the program with Zacatecas Mexican March by Genaro Codina, followed up by the Finale of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The orchestra ably transitions from classical to popular music and back, in their concerts.

This was followed with highlights from “Chicago” by Ebb and Kanter, featuring Razzle Dazzle and All That Jazz. The auditorium seemed to warm as they moved on to a medley called  “Caribbean Carnival” by Francis Feese – featuring an Adante, Bossa Nova, and Jazz Samba.

The half concluded with Just a Closer Walk with Thee, played in the traditional New Orleans style.

Folks say they come for the free concert of great music – but also thoroughly enjoy the intermission, and the treats brought for them to enjoy by the orchestra members’ families.

During the intermission, the audience was treated to refreshments – tables laden with cookies and other sweet delights, coffee, and beverages.

It was during the program’s mid-point pause when we spoke with ECCO director Jack Mahoney.

Having conducted his first orchestra in the late 1940s, and having been a high school band director for 22 years, for Jack conducting and hearing the music surround him doesn’t get old, he said.

Conductor and Director Jack Mahoney remarks to the audience about the musical selection the ECCO is about to play.

“It is still really exciting for me to conduct, and to listen to musicians ‘put it together’ and make it all come out right,” acknowledged Mahoney. “I get a kick out of doing this – after all these years; I still get a kick out of doing it.”

Beyond that, the Director added, “Another genuine pleasure I get out of conducting the ECCO is working with all of these fine musicians. These are a great bunch of people. They work hard, and do their best. Every year, I increase the difficulty of the selections a little, just to make it a little more challenging.”

But, when selecting a concert’s repertoire, Mahoney said he and the orchestra – all volunteers – rehearse and play a variety of music. “We offer music that people like to hear, not necessarily music that the musicians enjoy playing. Maybe that’s why we have such a nice turnout for our concerts – our selections have good audience appeal.”

The audience settles in for the second half of the concert.

The second half began with music from “Faust” by Charles Gounoud.

Next, “Irving Berlin: The Early Years” – a medley featuring Say It With Music, A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody, When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabama, Play a Simple Melody, and All by Myself, finishing up with Alexander’s Ragtime Band.

A compact arrangement of the famous George Gershwin concerto, called The Little Rhapsody in Blue, delighted audience members next, as did Sigman & Maxwell’s Ebb Tide.

Concluding the performance were highlights from “My Fair Lady” by Lerner and Loewe – a medley featuring Get me to the Church on Time, On the Street Where You Live, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face, and I Could Have Danced All Night.

Director Mahoney says he still “gets a kick” from conducting music.

The members of the orchestra are amateur and professional musicians from East Multnomah County, Portland, and Vancouver, who volunteer their time and effort. The orchestra plays four to six concerts a year for various organizations.

For your calendar, the East County Community Orchestra Spring concert will be on Friday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. – in the David Douglas Performing Arts Center.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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