Music in the Mountains to begin holding youth workshops |

Music in the Mountains to begin holding youth workshops


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Music in the Mountains will start today holding in-person music workshops for youth at the Center for the Arts.

The workshops will be offered to Nevada County youth free of charge, which Music in the Mountains marketing and donor services manager Hilary Hodge said is made possible by support from the nonprofit’s donors as well as a grant from the California Arts Council.

“We want for the students to have an interactive learning experience,” said Hodge. “Music, in particular, faces challenges (working virtually) because of the limitations in sound technology.”

Synchronized musical performances played virtually, which have grown in popularity this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hodge said, are an involved process as someone has to piece the song together by editing the musicians’ individual performances to match one another in timing. Virtual rehearsals, on the other hand, are subject to delays in video and audio among other difficulties, and are unlikely to go as smoothly as that finished product ultimately presented to audiences.

The series will kick off with a rhythm workshop — scheduled for 3:30 to 5 p.m. today — taught by Shannon Devir, flutist and assistant director of the Music in the Mountains Youth Orchestra.

From 4 to 5:30 p.m. today, local harpist Sage Po will lead a harp workshop, accepting all levels of proficiency. Attendees are asked to bring their own harp.

The workshops are at The Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley. Attendees will be guided to an outdoor area with tents. No reservation is required, though the area’s capacity is around 10 people.

Concerning workshops, Devir said, “Don’t underestimate the power of music, especially right now as people are going through different things regarding COVID … to heal, bring happiness, and bring people together.”

Devir said that, while the workshops are planned to be masked and outdoor in-person events, she would encourage interested members of the community who are uncomfortable attending in person to contact Music in the Mountains staff. She said community access is a priority, and that a virtual component to these workshops may be added in response to interest.

An intermediate and advanced string chamber music series will also be taught by Music in the Mountains Youth Orchestra Conductor Richard Altenbach from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Nov. 11, then at the same time Nov. 18 and Dec. 2 and 9.

According to Hodge, this selection of workshops was guided by consideration of COVID-19 transmission risk as they avoided involving vocal performance or wind instruments. By contrast, rhythm exercises, harp instruction, and the playing of string instruments can all be done while wearing a mask, which workshop organizers will require of any attendees.


Planning for this year’s holiday concert, to be held virtually at 7 p.m. Dec. 11, is underway at Music in the Mountains.

The concert will showcase both professional musicians and Music in the Mountains’ community chorus and orchestra. “We have new pieces we will be premiering, and it will also be featuring everyone’s favorite classics,” said Hodge, adding that they will be collaborating with The Center for the Arts for some of the pieces.

As with this year’s July 3 pre-Independence Day concert, also held virtually, the holiday concert will be accessible on a pay-what-you-can basis.

“We have been really fortunate that that model has been able to sustain the organization, in addition to grants and donations,” said Hodge.

The July concert, which Hodge said may normally have drawn a crowd of around 2,000 people at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, reached around 4,000 in its virtual format — bringing Music in the Mountains to a nationwide, and even international, audience.

“It’s a safe way to bring family together whether near or far,” said Hodge, on the holiday concert’s significance as many forego travel or in-person gatherings this holiday season in an effort to maintain social distancing.

Those who would like to attend the holiday concert may RSVP at the Music in the Mountains website.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at

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