Friday, December 15, 2017
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Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble, Richey Community Orchestra are among the outlets for local performers who might like to play along

They come from all walks of life. Professionals making a living with their art. Youngsters honing their skills. Devotees who have a day job but pursue other talents on their own time.

They are all members of our community, doing their thing.

Maybe their thing has them rehearsing lines for a community theater production or belting it out with a local choral group. Perhaps they practice their melodies for the concert stage or paint watercolor landscapes that hang in a local art gallery. The common thread is a shared talent and a yearning, perhaps, to be part of something bigger.

Their passion also enriches the community, creating close-to-home events for people to attend. Their audience is typically our audience: Our Diversions page normally focuses on local events you can check out. In the coming weeks, though, we'll feature opportunities for those who might want to take an active role in the local arts scene.

It's an invitation for all the would-be singers, players, actors and artists to come on out. Do your thing.

Richey Community Orchestra

About 45 to 50 musicians sign on each year for the Richey Community Orchestra, now entering its 40th year. "We have players in their teens right up into their 90s," said executive director Denise Isaac- son. "Some play professionally. Some are amateurs."

But be forewarned: This orchestra is not for beginners. "There is an expected skill level," Isaacson said. "You have to be able to play well."

The orchestra hosts six concerts each year; four at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge and two dinner shows at Spartan Manor in New Port Richey.

The season kicks off Nov. 11 with a Veterans Day concert featuring patriotic music. Other performances include a Righteous Brothers tribute and a February concert featuring 13-year-old piano prodigy Nadia Azzi of Dunedin.

Auditions are required. Rehearsals are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays starting Oct. 1 at the First Baptist Church of Elfers, 4050 Redleaf Drive, New Port Richey. Call (727) 919-3866 or email [email protected] communityorchestra.com.

Richey Concert Band

The Richey Concert Band got its start in the mid 1960s with about a dozen players. Now about 70 to 85 musicians of all ages and capabilities participate. "Of course that depends on the season and when the snowbirds arrive," said longtime band director Henry Fletcher.

He arrived in 1972, first serving as a trumpet player, then a fill-in for another director who was ill at the time. "He never came back and I've been at it ever since," Fletcher said.

"This an essential part of the community because it gives people a chance to play, of course, but then others have the opportunity to get out and see us," said Fletcher, who also worked as a music teacher at Mittye P. Locke Elementary for more than 20 years. "We typically have about 800 to 900 people coming to our concerts."

The season starts with a 9/11 memorial concert at Sims Park in New Port Richey. Five concerts follow, all on the first Sunday of the month starting Nov. 4 at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge.

Rehearsals are from 7 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday, starting Sept. 4 (with two weeks break to follow) in the band room at Gulf High School. Call Henry Fletcher (727) 842-7502 or Joan Geschke at (727) 842-9177; or visit richeyconcertband.com.

Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble

The Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble, which started in summer 2007 with a few players rehearsing in the back room of an auto dealership, has grown to some 60 musicians of all ages.

Travel is a theme for this season's musical selections, said Scott Leahy, who co-directs the band with June Hammond. Think Australian Outback, New York City and the American West.

Upcoming performances include a multimedia presentation with the University of Tampa at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge and a solo performance in October at Pasco Middle School. The band will also perform at local events and an end-of-year concert at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel.

Rehearsals are held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at Crossroads Community United Methodist Church, 26211 County Line Road, Wesley Chapel. Fees are $50 per year. Call Scott Leahy at (813) 929-6929; email [email protected] or visit wesleychapelwindensemble.com.

Greater Pasco Youth Symphony

One strictly for the kids is the newly formed Greater Pasco Youth Symphony, which is the creation of violinists Emiko Wennerholt and Amy Bryant, who saw the need for a local orchestra experience for young string players.

They met while teaching lessons and in February hatched their plan to get something going for the younger set. Both are volunteering as co-directors. Wennerholt has played internationally and also has performed with the St. Petersburg Opera Company and Florida Orchestra.

The nonprofit group has six to 10 players with openings in cello, brass, woodwind, percussion and other players in grades 5-12.

"Its a good way to learn music," said violinist Akshaya Venkata, 12. "You're exposed to what a symphony is and what it takes to be in a symphony," she said.

Rehearsals are from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays at Trinity Presbyterian Church of Seven Springs, 4651 Little Road, New Port Richey.

Registration is $50. Monthly fee is $40 with sibling discounts.

Call Emiko Wennerholt at (727) 858-8024 or visit greaterpascoyouth symphony.webs.com.

Hernando Symphony Orchestra

The Hernando Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 29th season at a new concert venue: Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. The conductor is Wayne Raymond.

Three concerts are scheduled each season, which includes a holiday concert the first weekend of December, as well as a concert in February and one in April. Each concert includes three performances in weekend blocks (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

The orchestra has openings for violinists, but interested musicians can check out the website where positions will be posted as they become available.

An audition is required and must be scheduled in advance. Rehearsals are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Chocachatti Elementary School, 4135 California St., south of Brooksville. The final rehearsal before each concert will be at Stage West.

Also, the orchestra needs ushers. To volunteer as an usher or schedule an audition, call (352) 597-9555; email [email protected]; or visit hernandosymphony.com.

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