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Annual concert introduces American classics

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PAST AND PRESENT: Conductors Jason Thompson, left, and Chris Bade dressed up as Ludwig Van Beethoven and a scientist during the 2016 “Orchestra 101” theme.
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PERFECT PITCH: Musician Rachel Klink let children control the pitch of her French horn at the 2018 concert.

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) will kick off its 50th anniversary with the Larita Boren Children’s Concert this Thursday, Sept. 26.

The event will run from 10-11 a.m. at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU).

While the event is open and free to people of all ages, the concert will be centered around teaching children, mostly third- through sixth-graders, aspects of music education that they might not normally get in a classroom.

The theme for this year’s concert is “Songs of America.”

The program will feature the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Hoe-Down” from Rodeo, the “American Frontier,” music from Duke Ellington and some highlights from “The Lion King.”

MPO Executive Director Joy Frecker said the theme was put together last spring when she met with the conductors for the event, Jason Thompson, associate professor of strings and orchestra at IWU, and Chris Bade, professor of music woodwinds and orchestra at Taylor University.

The trio was looking for some pieces that would be relatable and recognizable while also filling in some songs that weren’t as well known.

Frecker said they chose to include “The Lion King” to illustrate the idea that there is good, modern American music.

“There’s this preconceived notion that orchestra music was written by people a long time ago that doesn’t apply to us,” Frecker said.

The concert serves not only as a relatable learning experience for young students, but also for collegiate musicians as well.

Bade said that some of the pieces feature medley type music and old folk songs that might be familiar to the musicians.

The challenge is relearning the music so they can play it how it’s written rather than how they remember it.

“Sometimes how we remember music sounding doesn’t jive with the notation on the score,” Bade said.

Bade reminds his students that they’re not just performing, they could be influencing another generation as well.

“I tell them, ‘You used to be those people in the audience.’ The children might be looking up to them,” Bade said.

Bade said his own experience seeing an orchestra in the third grade changed his life.

Frecker said while they’re not yet sure how many people will attend the upcoming concert, attendance has ranged from 500 to 1,000 people in past years.

Frecker also said this program can help introduce people to the world of orchestra music, as the program will only be about 35-40 minutes long.

“This is a great opportunity for individuals to get a little bite, a little taste of what orchestra music is like,” she said.