Evergreen Philharmonic relies on practice, practice, practice before Carnegie Hall gig

November 30, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Dancers twirl in the Issaquah Community Center as the Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra performs at Swingin’ in Vienna in January. File

Skyline High School violinist Melinda Wang and her friends from around the Issaquah School District have the chance of a lifetime this school year.

Wang, a senior and the concertmaster for the district’s Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra, will be one of 54 fellow musicians who will get to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in May.

Carnegie Hall has hosted the likes of the Beatles, Leonard Bernstein, composer John Adams, the New York Philharmonic and Duke Ellington, among others.

“So many famous people have been there before,” Wang said.

While the high schoolers are excited about the May trip, many of them have begun to raise money to help cover the cost — about $2,100 per person.

The musically talented teens have sold ads in their concert programs, held a music camp for junior high students and now are offering live music entertainment groups for hire, Parent Coordinator Beverly Tindall said.

“They have just about every kind of combination,” she added.

Small groups of two to up to five or six Evergreen Philharmonic members are available to play at various community or private events throughout the winter, she said.

“(The group) has not done this as a fundraiser before,” Tindall said.

Some students have already raised the full amount of their trip cost, Orchestra Director Doug Longman said. But the group will be raising money throughout the school year.

Longman, who leads orchestra classes at Skyline and Issaquah high schools, too, took the extracurricular group on one big trip each year until 2008 — they often went to Europe — he said. This is the first group trip since then.

“There’s no stage in America that has more history, more tradition,” Longman said. “If you’ve played Carnegie Hall, why, everything else is a come down.”

The audition-only orchestra was formed in 1991 and has performed at the University of British Columbia, the University of Southern California, and in Montreal and southern England. Participation ranges from 65 to 75 strings, woodwinds and percussion musicians.

“Raising money is definitely a challenge, but I think a lot of people try to work together,” Wang said.

The group performs a community concert Dec. 16. In January, Evergreen will perform the Swingin’ in Vienna concert at Issaquah High School, featuring waltz-style music and dancing.

She said she and her fellow members feel fortunate to have additional community music opportunities outside of school. They are able to further pursue their passion for music as Evergreen Philharmonic musicians.

“I think it’s really cool our school district has an orchestra like this,” Wang said.

Longman, who funded the group nearly 30 years ago, seemed impressed with how the students are trying to make sure everyone can afford to go to Carnegie Hall.

“They’re very excited and motivated to do this,” Longman said. “The community is behind this.”

If you go

Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra winter concert

7:30 p.m. Dec. 16

Skyline High School

1122 228th Ave. S.E., Sammamish

Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors

http://evergreenphil.org or www.evphil.issaquah.wednet.edu

How to help

Contact Parent Coordinator Beverly Tindall at 206-330-7837 or quartets@evergreenphil.org to book the Evergreen Philharmonic for a private event, or to support the student orchestra through a concert program advertisement.

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