‘333 Years of Music’ — Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Orchestra celebrates 40th anniversary with a free concert in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

‘333 Years of Music’ — Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Orchestra celebrates 40th anniversary with a free concert in Grass Valley

Sierra College music professor and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Orchestra conductor leads the orchestra during a recent performance.
Submitted photo to Prospector


WHAT: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Orchestra’s “333 Years of Music” concert

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Sierra College Nevada County Campus, 250 Sierra College Dr., Grass Valley

TICKETS: Concert is free; tickets aren’t required. No parking fee. Donations accepted

INFO: Visit http://www.olliorchestra.org for details

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute spring concert, “333 Years of Music,” represents a journey through time. Audience members might recognize the first piece played, Franz von Suppé’s “Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna.”

Many of his works have been used in soundtracks for films, television and ads, in addition to being frequently played at pops concerts.

The music contrasts a slow, lyrical middle section with boisterous music that both opens and closes the piece. The cellist plays an extended solo, featuring a plaintive melody over a waltz accompaniment on pizzicato strings.

Johann Sebastian Bach, born in 1685, is the oldest composer represented. He wrote “Notebook for Anna Magdalena” for his wife. The selections scheduled for performance are simple pieces that the Bach family played together. They provide a glimpse into the domestic music of the 18th century and the musical tastes of the Bach family.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Orchestra performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony No. 41,” a complicated piece of music. Mozart wrote it in just six weeks, along with two other full-length works.

It’s the longest and last symphony he composed. He was broke and in debt, yet Mozart was determined to write something revolutionary.

Mozart uses five different melodies simultaneously in the Jupiter, making it a challenge for any orchestra. It’s regarded by many as among the greatest symphonies in classical music.

“It’s pure exhilaration,” said conductor Steve Miller, Sierra College professor of music.

The newest composition presented is Shelley Rink’s “Bella Noche.” She teaches piano, music fundamentals and music appreciation at American River College, Folsom Lake College and Sierra College.

“It’s an enchanting and uplifting waltz that gives every string player a chance to shine. I’m so pleased to offer a performance of new music written by one of our own,” Miller said.

Origins of the orchestra

For nearly 160 years, local musicians have formed groups and performed public concerts. Nevada County Concert Band’s website’s “Heritage” page tracks numerous bands beginning in 1861. Two Nevada County Concert Band members formed the local orchestra in 1978 and it’s been in existence ever since, despite several name changes.

There were rough years until the group became part of Sierra College. When the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute granted funds to the college, the Orchestra thrived.

According to Violinist Natalie Stone, a member of the orchestra since 1997, “Finally, we local musicians had rehearsal and performing spaces, a steadfast and talented conductor and a solid financial base.”

The musicians that comprise the orchestra vary widely in experience and age. Many are local music teachers; several are professional musicians. A few are teens and about ten or so have been orchestra members for roughly 30 years.

The group rehearses year-round, offering local musicians an opportunity to play together. Two free concerts are offered every year.

“OLLI is unique among orchestras,” said Stone. “We experience a great deal of camaraderie. We come together in friendship and support.”

“We’d love to see more new faces,” said Miller. “Musicians of every ability are encouraged to join. We don’t audition musicians, they audition us!”

Britta Tigan is with the Friends of OLLI Orchestra and can be contacted at 530-559-8397 or btigan@gmail.com.

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