Fendalton - Ilam
N Ew s
b UsiN E ss
pEo pl E
Orchestra and community in tune
by christine de felice
Every Thursday evening, barring holidays, while many local residents are settled comfortably at home, a group of enthusiastic instrumentalists are filling the Fendalton Community Centre in Clyde Road with beautiful music. Members of the Garden City Orchestra, they come together every week to practise tirelessly under the baton of conductor Beth Cohen. These are not professional musicians; rather, they are a diverse group of music lovers, who play for the sheer enjoyment of it, and for the camaraderie of belonging to a group of likeminded people. Coming from all parts of Christchurch and a variety of backgrounds, they range in age from the youngest at10, to the oldest, a clarinetist who is in his 80s. Currently, the orchestra has about 40 members, and the numbers are continually growing, president Jan Moody says. Instruments cover the full orchestral range of wood, brass, strings and percussion, and the only criteria for joining are the ability to play an instrument and to enjoy playing it, Jan says. “Nobody is ever turned away.” The Garden City Orchestra was formed in 1999 by John Emeleus, who was its first conductor, with some of the original members coming from the Risingholme Orchestra. The second conductor to take up the baton was Patrick Shepherd, the third was Nick Carson, and Beth, the current conductor, has been with the orchestra for four years. Before moving to New Zealand six years ago, the American-born conductor had enjoyed a highly successful musical career there. With a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting, which she gained at the University of Wisconsin after graduating in music from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, she spent 30 years as a conductor and music educator in New York. Her playing abilities cover a diversity of instruments including piano, cello and trumpet, though she says conducting is what she enjoys the most. Since settling in this country she has
the Garden city Orchestra playing at the celebration of the founding of the christchurch shandong Art and cultural Association.
conducted a number of orchestras including the Christchurch School of Music Camerata Strings and ISO Orchestras, the Canterbury Regional Schools Orchestra and the Auckland Victorious March Concert Band. Since she joined the Garden City Orchestra, the repertoire has been expanded. “It was a different repertoire when I started,” Beth says. “They were playing easy versions of the classics and lighter popular music. The repertoire is now much bigger. I pushed it to a bigger repertoire to extend them.” She says there are now more violas and first and second strings, which are needed for the more romantic compositions, and the
musicians’ playing ability and the quality of the music has improved. What both Beth and Jan emphasise, though, is that this is very much a community orchestra, which anyone who plays an instrument can join. At the same time it is an international orchestra, with members from China, South Africa, Australia, the United States, England and Japan all part of the lineup. “It’s a good opportunity for non-native New Zealanders to enter the mix,” says Beth. The musicians don’t just play for their own enjoyment, though. The Garden City Orchestra performs three concerts a year
for the public, with guest ensembles often included in the programme. The next one, their Mid-Year Concert, is being held on Sunday, June 25 at the Avonhead Primary School. Starting at 2pm, the programme includes the very complex Symphony No. 1 in B Flat major by Robert Schuman, Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and a Fauré composition. With tickets costing only $10, Beth says it’s their way of bringing music to the community, making it “accessible and economically attainable”. Tickets will be sold at the door.
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Fendalton Ilam Gazette 13-06-17