Here’s the way many outer East Portland folks got into the Christmas spirit, early in December …
At their 2016 Winter Concert at David Douglas High School, in the Hazelwood neighborhood, here’s the East County Community Orchestra.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The parking lot was filled to overflowing at David Douglas High School’s Horner Performing Arts Center, on the afternoon of December 4, for the winter concert of the East County Community Orchestra (ECCO).
On the program were pieces from two centuries of American favorites, as well as well-known folk songs of the 20th Century – and the program closing with Christmas music and a carol sing-a-long.
ECCO Director Dr. Roger G. Nickerson conducts the musicians.
The director, Dr. Roger G. Nickerson, raised his baton for the downbeat at 3:00 p.m., and members of the ECCO began to fill the Horner Auditorium with the sounds of music.
“Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss (recognized as the theme from “2001, A Space Odyssey”) started off the program.
It was followed by a medley depicting “The American Frontier”, followed up by “Country Gardens” by Percy Grainger, an English “Morris Dance” Tune. Next presented was the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Greig, concluding with the rollicking “Hall of the Mountain King”.
The ECCO cello section contributes rich-sounding bass to a song.
The end of the first half was a film salute, Hooray for Hollywood, including “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With The Wind”, “42nd Street”, “Born Free”, “Theme from a Summer Place”, “Swanee”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, and “Hooray for Hollywood”.
During the intermission, the audience was invited to join orchestra members in the lobby of the performing arts center, where volunteers set out tables loaded with cookies and other bakery delights, and served coffee.
Members of the orchestra bring tables full of treats for all to enjoy during intermission.
While the desserts were enjoyed by members of the audience, Dr. Nickerson talked about his orchestra.
“It’s important to have a community orchestra, because it brings together people who would might never have another chance to play music together,” Nickerson told East Portland News.
“Also, some of our musicians might never have a chance to play a concert for the public,” Nickerson reflected. “ECCO has many musicians who come out to practice every week, and so this becomes part of their social life, part of their music life, and part of their family life.”
Musicians in this all-volunteer orchestra rehearse weekly for their major concerts at Horner Auditorium – and at other locations around the area.
Started as the “Gresham Seniors Orchestra” 1978, the organization’s name was changed to East County Community Orchestra in 2000, reflecting the group’s wide area of activity, age, and membership, he said. “People from Vancouver to Canby, to Beaverton – scattered all over the Tri-County area – participate in this orchestra.”
The best part of being involved with the orchestra, Nickerson said, “is when we play the concert. It’s when we all get together and get to offer what we do to the community. What a wonderful free event! We don’t often get that anymore.”
With feeling, Conductor Nickerson coaxes beautiful music from the musicians during a powerful passage.
As Nickerson’s baton went up, the orchestra began the second half of the concert, starting with a ballroom dance tune, “Moonlight Beguine”.
The orchestra went on to play a Great Movie Marches medley, including “The River Kwai March (‘Colonel Bogey’)”, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, and “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
That was followed by highlights from the musical South Pacific, by Rogers and Hammerstein, including “Some Enchanted Evening”, “A Wonderful Guy”, “Bali Hai”, and “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”.
The East County Community Orchestra plays Holiday favorites.
Near the conclusion of the program, the orchestra swung into another medley, this one called Christmas Memories. It included songs like “Frosty the Snowman”, “Santa Claus is Common to Town”, “Here Comes Santa Claus”, “I Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.
The delightful program ended with a Christmas sing-along, including such carols as “Hark! The Harold Angels Sing”, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, and ending up with “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”.
The all-volunteer orchestra numbering about 70 musicians is a nonprofit organization, and welcomes donations to help defray its operating expenses, which include the rental of rehearsal and performance spaces, and the purchase of new music.
© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News