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Whidbey orchestra draws musicians back to their instruments
For many musicians, their love of music starts at a young age. But after years of practice, some part with their instrument for new endeavors.
It’s a common story for many members of the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra, but with one more chapter — finding the instrument once again.
The orchestra is a place for the musicians to explore and reestablish a love for performance.
Most members of the orchestra have returned to playing an instrument after 20 or more years, said Ron Meade, treasurer of the orchestra’s board of directors.
“There’s a lot of experience in the orchestra, along with passion,” he said. “It’s a nice blend of people.”
Meade joined the orchestra eight months ago and found the musical community supportive and hopes more long-lost musicians get involved.
Colleen Childs, who plays the French horn, heard of the orchestra through word-of-mouth from a friend.
Childs was inspired to play the trumpet again after hearing a concert in Seattle. When she heard of the community orchestra and its many returning members, she decided to join and learned a new instrument, the French horn.
Childs is now in her fifth season with the orchestra and enjoys the brain exercise playing music gives her.
One of the most unique parts about this orchestra is the intergenerational partnerships, she said, and being able to mentor younger members in the orchestra.
“It’s a thrill and so fun,” she said. “We keep each other inspired.”
For James Lux, who plays the trumpet and is the president of the board of directors, the orchestra was also a place to rejuvenate his musical talents.
He described returning to the trumpet similar to picking up a bicycle again — it’s simple, but “remembering the sensations is another thing,” he said. “Music is a skill that you need to keep up.”
The orchestra has raised the bar for Lux and his sons, Nathan and Shannon. It provides a place to play for a range of skill and age levels. He said it was important to him to be able to foster local music opportunities, especially for young musicians.
“Orchestra makes your mind work. Playing with other people makes your mind work,” he said. “When you get older you have less reason to push yourself. Music is one way to keep mentally active.”
Nathan Lux, 17, joined the orchestra a year and a half ago after playing in a youth orchestra.
Nathan was hesitant at first, but after encouragement from his dad, he decided to join.
Nathan now plays second violin for the orchestra and said fellow musicians have also helped him with his timing and pace.
“I thought it was a bad idea until I joined and really liked it,” he said.
One of his favorite parts about the orchestra is the music choices. He said the selections were better than the youth orchestra and more fun for him.
“I haven’t come across a single bad piece,” Nathan said.
Music Director Tigran Arakelyan said the variety of music is one of the best parts of the organization. In the orchestra’s upcoming concert on Friday, audience members will hear a range from Beethoven to music from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
He enjoys working with people of all ages and witnessing different generations help each other and collaborate.
Arakelyan said being a community orchestra on a voluntary basis draws a different set of musicians.
“We have people who are truly passionate about music,” he said.
The Whidbey Island Community Orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14 at the Island Church of Whidbey, 503 Cascade Ave., Langley.
Tickets are free.