A Community in Symphony

August 25, 2023

There is a subtle excitement hearing the tuning note as a symphony is about to start, and San Juan Symphony wants to bring that excitement to everyone, performer or concert-goer. Through community-based programs, working within local schools, and supporting other local music groups, San Juan Symphony is bringing professional-grade music to the small towns and communities, breaking down barriers to access. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, president and employee owner of Alpine Bank Durango. Alpine Bank is only as strong as its community, and giving back to the community is one of our core values. I'm proud to present Alpine Bank's "Community Matters" program, highlighting local non-profit organizations.

The San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra program began in 2007 when the Fort Lewis College Music faculty approached the San Juan Symphony about combining the Fort Lewis College Orchestra with a local community youth orchestra. The program has grown from one orchestra of about 30 students to a program of two orchestras serving almost 100 students in our community. We serve students in Farmington, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Mancos, Bayfield, Ignacio, throughout the whole Durango area.

At the core of San Juan Symphony is the belief in the transformative power of music through a variety of programs ranging from performances to educational programs in local area schools, San Juan Symphony reaches across all ages and music levels to create concerts and connections with symphonic music.

We serve a unique purpose in our community. We are the only full symphonic orchestra for youth in the Four Corners region. So we offer a unique experience for students who do band or orchestra in their schools and want to do even more music to expand their knowledge.

What exactly is a symphonic orchestra, you may ask? Most school orchestras are comprised of four stringed instruments, violin, viola, cello, and bass. A symphonic orchestra includes wind and percussion instruments, although for many students, performing in a symphonic setting is not always an option.

So in the schools, the orchestra programs are just the string instruments, violin, violas, cellos, and basses. And then the bands serve the wind instruments, flute, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, sax, horns, trumpets, trombones, percussion, tubas. But a symphonic orchestra is where you take the instruments from a band along with the instruments from a string orchestra and combine them into a full symphonic orchestra, much like you would see with the LA Philharmonic or a full professional symphonic orchestra. So getting kids that opportunity is something they can't get in the schools, and so we provide that unique experience for our local musicians who just want to do more music.

The side-by-side concert is only one of many opportunities San Juan Symphony offers for local youths to be involved on the orchestral scene. The symphony also offers a number of classes throughout the summer in addition to their concert roster in the fall. With the acquisition of Third Avenue Arts, the new Beyond the Concert Hall series highlights other local music organizations, bringing music to a wider audience.

The San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra program is a nonprofit, so we do rely on donations from our community businesses and individuals. So donating to our programs so we can provide music lessons, musical instruments to students who need them provided, so we can purchase music, so we can get our orchestras out in the community to perform for local organizations or other schools.

San Juan Symphony has a full list of events this fall as their season runs concurrent with Fort Lewis College's academic schedule. Find information about upcoming performances, the school programs, and other ways to volunteer and donate on the website, and come attend an event. Find more information about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of "Community Matters." I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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