‘Sunnyside Symphony’ packs house, at tenth anniversary concert

You can’t hear here how good they sound – but you can see why so many people have discovered that they can hear great classical music played by skilled musicians – right in outer East Portland …

In the hallway, Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra musician Nick Gorini pauses to tune his contra bass.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The auditorium began to fill long before the start of the 10th anniversary performance of the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra on October 23, at the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Mill Park Neighborhood.

“We try to present the highest level of classical music at our concerts,” said conductor Travis Hatton, an accomplished and versatile conductor who has worked with opera companies, orchestras, chamber orchestras, choruses and bands in Europe, as well as here in America.

Backstage, before the concert, conductor Travis Hatton arranges his musical scores.

“And, we enjoy presenting a variety of music,” added Hatton, as he put his scores in order just before the concert began. “In this very concert, we’re doing a piece by Tchaikovsky – considered to be a ‘standard’ in classical music – and also a piece by Shostakovich which was written in 1959 – making it more like a modern classic.”

Asked why he promotes the presentation of live symphonic music, Hatton thought for a moment before responding.

“Do you know what tiny percentage of people these days actually go to enjoy any kind of a live musical concert?  We provide an opportunity for people in outer East Portland to experience top quality music, free of charge. This, in turn, helps them become engaged in an artistic life of the community as an audience member. I think it’s invaluable – a wonderful opportunity.”

Concertmaster Shauna Stinson leads the orchestra’s final tuning, before the start of the 10th Anniversary Concert of the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra.

This is an all-volunteer orchestra, Hatton pointed out. “These musicians – I believe we have 63 with us today – give of their time and expertise. Some of them are professional musicians; some are retired from organizations such as the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Still others are trained musically, but decided to earn a living in other fields, but still enjoy playing their instruments. And we have a couple of people who are professional teachers as well.”

Hatton smiled when an orchestra member whispered to him that the house was rapidly filling with concert-goers. “I’m glad it looks like we’re having a good turnout for this – the concert celebrating our 10th anniversary season.”

As is the tradition, concertmaster Shauna Stinson shakes his hand, welcoming conductor Travis Hatton to the stage.

As concertmaster Shauna Stinson went onstage for the final tuning, Hatton said, “The best thing for me is that it’s really gratifying for me to take a look back and see what’s happened with this orchestra over the course of the last decade. To think that I’ve been, and continue to be, a part of this; that’s extremely gratifying.”

After striding out to his podium in front of the musicians, Hatton told the audience, “The reason we’ve had ten wonderful years presenting fine music is because of all these wonderful musicians who participate in the orchestra.

The Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra fills the auditorium with the sound of expertly-played classical music.

“And, it’s because of all the wonderful audiences we’ve had over the years, that keep us going,” Hatton added. “We also thank the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church community for welcoming us here in their building.”

The program led off with Antonin Dvorak’s stirring Slavonic Rhapsody #1 op. 45.

Then, the guest soloist, cellist Diane Chaplin, came to the stage. The audience learned that Chaplin is the director and conductor of the Oregon Pro Arte Youth Chamber Orchestra, and Pro Arte Conservatory Strings.

“She is clearly a world-class to cellist, who spent 21 years as the cellist of the Colorado Quartet – and, with them, had an international career which took her around the globe,” Hatton commented to the audience as she finished tuning her cello.

World renowned cellist Diane Chaplin soulfully plays a passage from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 107.

Hatton’s baton stroked down, and the orchestra began their performance of the first four movements of Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 107 by Dmitri Shostakovich – with Chaplin playing soulfully.

During the second half of the program, the audience was treated to the first four movements of Peter Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Opus 64 in E Minor.

Before a full house of appreciative concert-goers, conductor Travis Hatton conducts Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Opus 64 in E Minor.

If you’re interested in attending a performance of the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra, keep checking our Community Calendar – we list their programs, and many other free and inexpensive family-oriented events.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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