Orchestra blends festive, patriotic tunes for Christmas concert

Friday, December 1, 2017
The Carroll County Community Orchestra features band students from Berryville, Eureka Springs, Green Forest and Alpena school districts. The orchestra’s Christmas concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Bobcat Arena in Berryville.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

The Carroll County Community Orchestra is bringing a unique gift to listeners this Christmas.

Director Jim Swiggart said the community orchestra’s Christmas concert will feature merry melodies, patriotic tunes and Broadway hits. Among the selections featured are “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Selections from Chicago,” “Broadway in the ‘90s,” “Manhattan Beach March,” “Christmas Pops Medley,” “A Christmas Festival,” “Brighton Beach” and “Feliz Navidad.”

The Christmas concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturay, Dec. 16, at Bobcat Arena in Berryville.

Swiggart said the community orchestra is composed of musicians from across Carroll County, including students from the Berryville, Alpena, Green Forest and Eureka Springs school districts.

“We got a new adult musician out of Green Forest who hasn’t played for a long time,” he said. “It’s exciting to see people come back and play on their horns again. We also have several new students. Some of them are pretty young, and they’re excited about getting to play mature music.”

The wide variety of music that students read and play while in the orchestra helps them develop techniques that will allow them to be better musicians, he said.

“That’s probably the main thing we do,” Swiggart said. “Students have been playing for football season and are starting to get some Christmas music ready, but the 12 selections they’re playing in the orchestra will get them ready to be a good player for All-Region and All-State band.”

He continued, “They see this literature and think ‘I want to fall in love with my instrument and become a good player.’ That’s really what this is all about. The orchestra challenges students to explore new literature that they don’t get to see in a regular school setting.”

Berryville student Kaylee Liley plays saxophone in the community orchestra and said she loves getting to play all the Christmas songs that will be featured in the concert.

“My favorite piece is probably ‘Brighton Beach,’ but I also like all the Christmas songs we’re playing. It’s really festive,” she said.

Liley said being part of the community orchestra is fun because people of every talent level are playing music together.

“It’s really nice to hear the music and get to be a part of it,” she said.

Alpena student Christopher Anderson plays flute in the community orchestra. He said the literature featured in the Christmas concert offers band students more of a challenge.

“It’s really a learning experience,” he said. “We get to play with people who are more experienced and less experienced and see how that kind of plays together. It’s a different feel from any other band I’ve been in, and we go at a much faster pace, too.”

Berryville student Dustin Scarrow said he has been playing trumpet in the community orchestra for four years now.

“I joined four years ago, and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” he said. “I feel like it’s a wonderful experience playing with older musicians who are more experienced, as well as students from other schools. My favorite piece this season is probably ‘Selections from Chicago.’ ”

Berryville student Nathan Edwards said he was encouraged by his sister and his friend to join the community orchestra as a percussionist.

“My sister was a percussionist and would play percussion and clarinet in the community orchestra,” he said. “This is my first day, but I know I’m going to have fun with it. I’ve been reading through the pieces, and I think ‘Feliz Navidad’ will probably be my favorite.”

Swiggart said the community orchestra presents a winter and spring concert each year to support music education in Carroll County. A special program will be produced for each concert listing the supporters of music education in local communities, he said.

“Last year, we helped 19 kids get a chance to go to a music camp over the summer,” he said. “Those who have graduated were able to apply those scholarships toward their college tuition. That worked out really well for them.”

Swiggart concluded, “The main purposes of this whole thing is raising money for students to go to music camps. It gives kids a chance to expand their music education, and it gives adults a chance to get back into an ensemble.”

The Carroll County Orchestra rehearses from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday in the Berryville High School band room.

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