SIDNEY — The Upper Valley Community Orchestra will perform its first public concert Sunday, June 12, but to call the group “new” would not be quite fair.
Some members of the group, which comprises volunteer adult musicians and high school students, have been playing together for 30 years.
The short concert will begin at 3 p.m. in the Christian Academy School, 2151 W. Russell Road. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
“I hope a lot of people are in the giving mood,” laughed conductor John Streb, of Fletcher. “Music is expensive.”
The long-lived ensemble has called itself “The Pit” until recently. They have convened to play in the pit orchestras of high school musicals produced by Sidney High School, Fairlawn High School and Christian Academy Schools, as well as those put on by the Sidney Dance Company and Sock and Buskin Players and the holiday “Messiah” concert.
Streb decided that this summer, it was time to put the musicians on the stage.
“We should have an orchestra,” he said. As many as 50 musicians participate for any given show. Sunday’s concert will feature about 40. In addition, members of the Christian Academy show choir will sing the national anthem.
The orchestra includes a number of students who are now in college. They will come from the Ohio State University, the Ohio Northern University, the Edison State Community College and the Bowling Green State University. Katelyn Larger, of Sidney, is one of them. A junior at OSU, she played the clarinet in the Sidney High School marching and concert bands and performs now with the OSU University Band.
“I started playing with John (Streb) by freshman year of orchestra,” Larger said. “I enjoy being around older musicians and learning from them. (The Pit) is one of the best musical experiences I’ve had because it’s been a great learning experience.”
Streb encourages students to take their instruments with them to college, even if, like Larger, they are not music majors. Larger will begin studying in OSU’s radiation therapy program in the fall.
“If they have music in high school, they have it their whole life,” Streb said.
A music major, himself, who graduated from the University of Dayton with a second degree in accounting, Streb retired from the receiving department of Midmark in Versailles. He’s not ready to retire from music.
“Every musician has so much music in him. When he runs out of music, he’s done. And I’m not out yet,” he laughed.
He plays the tuba when he’s not conducting and teaches privately and performs regularly with the Sidney and Piqua civic bands. He also has filled in for a concert with the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra. Two years ago, he resurrected Sidney’s annual holiday presentation of “The Messiah” oratorio.
In December, the Upper Valley Community Orchestra will give a Christmas concert. Streb is excited about the new venture. He has personally purchased music for the group and is grateful to have access to the Sidney High School music library. Several of his fellow musicians assist in orchestrating pieces if only piano scores are available.
Sunday’s concert will include “A Time of Kings” by John Cacavas; a “Fiddler on the Roof” medley by Jerry Bock, arranged by Felton Rapley; “Appalachian Morning,” by Robert Sheldon; “Sunfest” by M.L. Daniels; a “Star Wars” medley by John Williams, arranged by Bob Lowden; and “Danny Boy,” a traditional tune arranged by Mike Lewis.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.