Two tuneful groups put on big concert

Find out which two groups ‘packed the house’ at a combined concert in Hazelwood – and learn when they’ll perform again, in May and June …

From all over outer East Portland, folks come out to hear music played by the East County Community Orchestra and Portland Metro Concert Band.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The Horner Auditorium on the David Douglas High School campus was nearly filled to capacity, as the East County Community Orchestra and the Portland Metro Concert Band joined to perform a Sunday concert on April 10.

Now in their third year of holding these joint concert events, both organizations are staffed with volunteer musicians – many of them professional players.

The East County Community Orchestra performs musical selections.

Free concerts like these are possible because of grants they’ve received, said Portland Metro Concert Band clarinetist Tom Dechenne.

“We’ve been applying for, and receiving, grant funds from the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, and Oregon Cultural Trust for these combined concerts,” Dechenne remarked to East Portland News.

“Most of it goes for rental of the hall; but a portion of the funds help the organizations buy new sheet music for their portfolios,” Dechenne said.

Dr. Roger Nickerson conducts the East County Community Orchestra as it performs Tchaïkovsky’s Slavonic March, more commonly known as March Slave.

The East County Community Orchestra started the afternoon show, under the baton of Dr. Roger Nickerson, beginning with a medley from the venerable musical “Show Boat”.

This selection was followed by La Sorella, Tchaikovsky’s March Slave, and Waltz of the Flowers from the “Nutcracker Ballet”.

Kathy Griffin and Bonnie Dalton play a violin interlude during the intermission.

Both audience and musicians enthusiastically partake in refreshments during the intermission.

Then, it was time for everyone to step out into the lobby to enjoy intermission, with tables laden with cookies, baked goods, and treats, with coffee.

During this break in the concert, Dr. Roger Nickerson, director of the East County Community Orchestra, talked about the afternoon’s show, and explained why he was conducting both groups.

Although not conducting the band, Jay Burchak plays throughout the concert.

“Portland Metro Concert Band director Jay Burchak is recovering from hip replacement surgery. He is performing today, but is ‘saving himself’ for their big show in May.”

And, for the first time, both musical organizations combined members for one number, Nickerson said. “We’ve taken all the brass members from both groups and put them all together in Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copeland.

Brass instrument players from both the orchestra and the band move to the “pit” for a combined performance of Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

About directing, Nickerson smiled, “I totally enjoy it. My reward is the enjoyment of our musicians, and the audiences who come to hear the groups perform.”

In an effort to classify the genre of music performed, he said, “We play all four areas of music: Classic marches, show tunes, Broadway hits, and a few unusual ones like the Beethoven pieces which you wouldn’t generally hear. We try to give our audience a little taste of everything, so they’ll want to come back.”

The Portland Metro Concert Band performed during the second half of the concert.

As promised, the performance of Fanfare for the Common Man, started off the show’s second half.

After members of the Portland Metro Concert Band rearranged themselves on the stage, the next selection was Americans We, followed by Nettleton – an early American hymn. Other selections included Jupiter from Gustav Holzt’s “The Planets”, and the theme from the movie and show Man of La Mancha.

Dr. Roger Nickerson invites the audience back for more concerts in late May and early June.

Much more music in May and June

On May 27, the Portland Metro Concert Band is holding an evening concert at 7:30 p.m.

It’s another fun FREE concert by this really, big band. In recognition of Memorial Day, the band will play the Carmen Dragon arrangement of “America the Beautiful” and “Armed Forces – Pride of America”, a medley celebrating each of the branches of the Armed Forces.  Other highlights will be “The Four Hornsmen”, a French horn quartet with band accompaniment; “Salute to Bob Hope”, featuring tunes associated with the late comedian’s radio program and movies; the hymn “Amazing Grace”; and the Sousa march “Sound Off”.

To  visit the Portland Metro Concert Band website: CLICK HERE.

On June 5, Starting at 3:00 p.m., the East County Community Orchestra’s Spring Concert begins!

Among pieces performed at this concert will be: Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, and Johann Strauss, Junior’s, Blue Danube and Emperor Waltz. You can expect to hear some contemporary showtunes as well. Intermission affords the opportunity to meet, and greet. the Director and musicians over free refreshments. The orchestra is a nonprofit organization.

This show is FREE; they accept donations to help defray their operating cost. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

BOTH of these performances will be held at the David Douglas High School wheelchair-accessible Horner Performing Arts Center, at 1400 SE 130th Avenue (between SE Division and Stark Streets).

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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