Ever wanted to play in an orchestra but never had the chance?
A pair of local musicians are in the process of creating the Cranbrook Community Orchestra and are putting out the call to anyone who wishes to join—and they mean anyone.
Local violinist Shelagh Redecopp, along with David Pasivirta‚ a music teacher at Laurie Middle School, are hosting an inaugural meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. at the school to gauge interest and the cross-section of instruments and musicians.
Redecopp recalled her experience of performing in a community orchestra when she used to live in Vancouver and hopes to create the same kind of inclusive atmosphere.
“So this is for people, from beginner to advanced, to have an opportunity to dust off those instruments they used to play way back when or still do but are looking for people to play with in an organized manner,” Redecopp said.
The vision is to gather a wide variety of strings, brass and woodwind instruments for weekly sessions for a few months to culminate in a concert series.
“I really want to encourage all people to come out. I’m afraid people will think, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough …’,” Redecopp said. “I want to open the door for those people so they don’t have that judgement level.”
Though Redecopp has wanted to start a community orchestra for the last three or four years, it wasn’t until the recent arrival of Pasivirta to Cranbrook, who had been living and teaching in Fernie, that the idea started becoming a reality.
Pasivirta, who will serve as the musical conductor, has an extensive musical background, primarily with the violin and the trombone, and has led various ensembles in the past, but never an orchestra.
While in Fernie, Pasivirta led the Fernie Community Choir, which he hopes to incorporate into the Cranbrook Community Choir in the future.
“We want to provide a place for people to play who have played instruments and haven’t had a chance,” he said. “Maybe they played in high school, maybe they played when they were younger and they just haven’t had a group to play with.
“… I hope we can have between 30-50 people and I hope there’s a moderately balanced number of instruments. If we had 40 flutes and one trombone, that wouldn’t really be an orchestra so much. I hope that it’s somewhat balanced. Other than that, I’m not too concerned.”
Ensuring all the musicians are comfortable with each other and himself as the conductor will be a key priority right off the bat.
“One of the most important things for me, with music, is to make sure people feel comfortable with each other, with the director so they can be a little bit vulnerable and create beautiful things together, because that’s what you’re doing,” Pasivirta said. “You’re creating beauty, you’re creating art for an audience, for each other.”
While it has yet to be established what the orchestra looks like, in terms of numbers and the cross-section of instruments, Pasivirta is hoping to tackle a wide variety of music and genres.
“What I’ve found works best with the community choir in Fernie, is taking a sampling from a wide variety of genres and eras,” he said. “So with the choir, I do a piece from the Renaissance or maybe something from the Baroque period, maybe something Classical, specifically the 1700s, not just higher art music.
“And then something Romantic, or folk music and maybe something that’s spiritual from the African-American spiritual tradition, maybe even a pop tune.
“Then there’s something for everybody in the audience, something for everybody in the orchestra. And it exposes everyone to something new at the same time.”
For more information on the Cranbrook Community Orchestra, contact Redecopp at 250-581-0058 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CranbrookCommunityOrchestra.