Arts and Entertainment

South Whidbey musical youths are Benaroya bound

Some South Whidbey Honor Choir students work with director Carol Foster to prepare for the choir ‘s banner performance at Benaroya Hall with the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra on May 16. - Photo courtesy of the South Whidbey Honor Choir
Some South Whidbey Honor Choir students work with director Carol Foster to prepare for the choir ‘s banner performance at Benaroya Hall with the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra on May 16.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the South Whidbey Honor Choir

They’ll have everyone swooning with pride when they take the Benaroya Hall stage in Seattle next week.

Twenty young musicians from South Whidbey will share in the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra’s 45th Anniversary Gala Concert celebration at the iconic hall at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 16.

The concert features the youth orchestra and the guest Honor Choir of 200 singers from fourth through eighth grade from around the Sound. Seventeen of those voices are members of the South Whidbey Honor Choir.

Also featured from the South End will be four string players who include Hannah McConnaughey, Zoe Hensler, Tera Applegate and Mira Yamamoto, all members of the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra’s advanced orchestra.

Ashley McConnaughey, who has two daughters in the choir and orchestra, said the event has been gaining steam from the start and the free tickets went fast.

“It’s become huge, and Web cast parties are forming on the island for those who can’t make it to Seattle,” she said. “The whole thing is just very cool.”

To top it all off, Everett’s mayor recently proclaimed May 16-22 as Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra Week.

Such a culmination could not have been reached without the visionary leadership of the youth symphony’s founder, Jascha Galperin.

In 1955, the Russian-born Galperin, a professional musician and conductor, became the music director of the Mukilteo School District. He founded the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1965, and was given a Steinway Award in 1967 for his contributions to the cultural life of the community.

He led the orchestra until 1976, when he retired, but continued to teach privately in Spokane into his mid-80s. Galperin died in 1991 at the age of 89, but his legacy lives on in the thriving youth orchestra after 45 years of dedicated support from the community. The afternoon will include a film tribute to Galperin.

The South Whidbey Honor Choir has been rehearsing since February, when members auditioned to earn the chance to sing onstage at Benaroya Hall. Under the guidance of choir director Carol Foster, music director at St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods in Freeland, the choir has proven its musical prowess in preparing for the big event.

“The South Whidbey Honor Choir sounds fabulous; they are extremely well-prepared,” said Tam Osborne, artistic director of the orchestra. Osborne visited a recent rehearsal at Langley’s United Methodist Church.

“We are very pleased to have South Whidbey bring an Honor Choir to this celebration,” Osborne said.

“South Whidbey has always had a strong presence in the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra. With 163 members representing 52 schools from 19 different school districts, we strongly support school music programs, and hope that this concert offers some of that support to our endangered school choral programs,” he added.

The South Whidbey Honor Choir members include Erik Anderson, Alexandria Anderson, Christopher Anderson, Emily Anderson, Ana Clark, Gracie Colby, Josiah Colby, Chloe Rose Dickerson, Ace Fenton, Hannah Kennedy, Kaj Lund Olsen, Hannah Mack, Haley McConnaughey, Hannah McConnaughey, Sarah Parker, Emma Scotthanson and Melissa Smith.

The concert is free as the organization wishes to show its gratitude to youth symphony supporters.

Tickets are sold out, but you can watch the live webcast, click here.

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