College concert showcases area musicians |

College concert showcases area musicians

Eileen JoyceJim Willoughby plays the bass during a rehearsal last Thursday with the Sierra College Orchestra. At right, Horatio Edens.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Horatio Edens’ job description as an adjunct professor of music at Sierra College probably doesn’t include marketing.

Besides teaching chamber music, introduction to music theory and orchestra classes each semester, Edens personally promotes the Sierra College Orchestra’s semi-annual concert through word-of-mouth and press releases.

He is at it again for Wednesday’s winter concert presented by the orchestra class, maybe this time with an even greater push.

Attracting small audiences at concerts during his first year at the Nevada County campus two years ago, Edens is proud that 187 audience members attended last winter’s concert in spite of nasty weather that night.

Edens has basically taken on a one-man-campaign to attract the largest crowds possible. He believes the 50 musicians in his orchestra class warrant it.

“They’re great people. They play so well, they deserve an audience,” said the enthusiastic teacher and conductor.

“This is a real community orchestra playing challenging standard symphonic literature. A lot of these people play in the Auburn Symphony, we have more violinists than the Auburn Symphony,” Edens added. “This is becoming one of the area’s best orchestras.”

Orchestra members range in age from 16 to 80 and are chosen through auditions or recommendations. The students play at a medium-to-advanced level. They have rehearsed weekly for Wednesday’s concert since classes began in August.

“It’s a kind of neat concert,” Edens stated. “I have Corelli’s ‘Christmas Concerto,’ a concerto grosso for strings and soloists Judy Bromley, Thomas Zimmerman and Florence Armour. We’re also doing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ version of ‘Greensleeves’ with flute soloists Anne Callaway and Alice Hostetler.”

Other concert repertoire includes a jazzy piece, “Dovetail Overture” by Robert Muczynski who heads the composition program at University of Arizona, and Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. Edens says this particular Beethoven work shows a lighthearted side of the composer, “joking around, wanting to have fun.”

“I think my students (in Nevada County) are amazing. The progress they’ve made since I started is incredible. It blows me away,” said Edens, who has taught at Sierra College for the last five years, the first three years at the Rocklin campus.

“They say it’s me; I say it’s them. I’m a musician who hears things that need to be fixed. I’m not a conductor; I’m just a working musician, a trench musician,” he stated.

Edens is also a college educator of 20 years, formerly teaching at California State University at Humboldt and Idaho State University and as a visiting guest artist at Cornell College.

He is also principal cellist for the Gold Country Chamber Orchestra in Sacramento and the Auburn Symphony.

“I’m so proud of these guys. They’ve done such an incredible job. I enjoy hearing them play. They’re as good as any college orchestra in the area,” Edens said.

Students are just as appreciative of their teacher and not just for his persistent efforts in providing a full house for their concerts.

“He not only gives us extra care, he’s a first-class musician, he brings to the orchestra a high quality of musicianship and he instills that in us,” said Hostetler, who has taken the class for six years both to play with an orchestra and to keep her music skills up.

She also hopes for a large crowd Wednesday, in part to spotlight Edens.

“We work very hard and we like to share our music with the crowd,” Hostetler said. “We would like the community to hear what Ray has done with the orchestra.”

WHAT: Sierra College Orchestra holiday concert

WHEN: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. A reception follows the concert.

WHERE: Seventh Day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Road off Highway 174, Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $5 general and

$3 for students and children under 12


(800) 242-4004

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