Growing an Orchestra

June 17, 2008

A small group of musicians at a recent gathering of the Falmouth Chamber Players, left to right, Hilde Maingay (violin), Laura Tutino (violin), Joyce Gindra (oboe), Fritz Sonnichsen (violin), Grant Mallett (violin), and behind him: Kate Housman (French horn), Jonathan Neufeld (viola). In front are Wendy Gabriel, Mary Sholkovitz (her arm only), and me (out of camera range) all on cello.

Ever since I took up the cello nine years ago, I have joined in discussions about what fun it would be to have an amateur orchestra in Falmouth, and those discussions no doubt precede my awareness of them. I was a member, for a semester, of a string ensemble at the Cape Cod Conservatory in West Barnstable. That was fun, but it was a long trip, and work tended to interfere with my attendance at rehearsals. And the end-of-semester concert was in Chatham. I also played flute in Falmouth Town Band for nine years, an energetic group of 100 or more musicians of all ages, under the direction of Lin Whitehead. I enjoyed that too, but I began to worry that my hearing was being compromised by sitting directly in front of a dozen trumpets every week.

Besides, I couldn’t play cello in Town Band. Clearly, we needed an orchestra. It seemed like a lot of work, to get an orchestra going, despite the plenitude of instrumentalists in and around town. There didn’t seem to be an available rehearsal space, a conductor, or available sheet music. Then, one day, pianist-oboist-singer Joyce Gindra and her neighbor Carol Knox, cellist-organist, got together for some piano/cello duets. In the course of their practicing, they thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have more people, an ensemble, or maybe an orchestra?”

They both knew several musicians, and those musicians knew other musicians, and, in no time at all, there were about three dozen people (about nine of whom are cellists) interested in playing in the orchestra. Hilde Maingay found a place for the group to practice at Alchemy Farm in Hatchville, others located sheet music, and Joyce talked to John Yankee (who leads the Falmouth Chorale and the Greater Falmouth Mostly All-Male Chorus) about conducting the group.

The group, which calls itself the Falmouth Chamber Players, will meet three times in July (the last three Mondays of the month) to try out music and get to know each other better, before starting the season in the fall. Members value the group not only for the opportunity to play together in a chamber orchestra, but also for the chance to meet up with musicians with similar interests to play together on a continuing basis or for special occasions.

We met recently at Hilde’s house and played through some string quartets and quintets, doubling and tripling parts, as necessary. We had a wonderful time, and I was impressed by how good the individual players are and how musical they sound as a group. I am looking forward to the July sessions.

Amateur or professional musicians, young and old, who are interested in playing with the group should contact Joyce Gindra at jgindra at att dot net.

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