A “diverse array of music” will be offered Sunday at Umpqua Community College when music teachers and directors across the county come together to promote music, education and community.
Known as “The Schools are Alive with the Sound of Music,” the event will feature local high and middle school music educators performing with UCC music faculty. Roseburg, Oakland, Sutherlin, North Douglas, South Umpqua, Riddle high schools, Phoenix School, Joseph Lane and John C. Fremont Middle Schools will all be represented during the outdoor concert held at the Swanson Memorial Amphitheater.
“As musically eclectic as the event will be, one of the key purposes of this concert is to emphasize the collaboration between secondary school music teachers in the area and the musicians at UCC,” Roseburg High School Director of Bands Branden Hansen said. “All performances are by unique collaborations of middle school, high school and community college music educators in the region.”
The goal, said UCC Director of Music Jason Heald, is to put a spotlight on music and musical education in our area.
“I’m in touch with a lot of the high school directors and we are all faced with sort of the same challenge,” Heald explained. “Because of the lack of face-to-face last year, we all have had tremendous losses to our programs. This is just one way to get some visibility back on our programs.”
Sutherlin music teacher Melissa Jmaeff said she has seen attendance drop in a wide variety of school activities over the last year. Students have taken a break from the arts, athletics and other programs across the board either because distance learning was too hard, Zoom fatigue or distancing requirements temporarily halting the activity.
“I think this is a great way to re-introduce ourselves to parents, students and the community,” Jmaeff said. “I think it is a great reminder that not only is music in our schools, but it’s a crucial element of our schools. It’s also a chance for us to do what we ask our students to do all the time, which is to practice, to get something together, to collaborate and then to present it.”
The performance also aims at filling the gap in live performances the pandemic has created. Over the past 18 months, nearly every live event has been canceled. Summer months are usually ripe with opportunities to perform, but offerings have still been rather limited over the past few months.
“Our valley, as well as the whole nation, has been starved of musical experiences over the last year-and-a-half. That is hard on both audiences as well as the musicians themselves,” Hansen said. “This concert provides live music to audiences and provides a performance opportunity for many performers in the region.”
Jmaeff has been teaching in the area for 16 years and has never heard of an event like this being held locally. The performance will be a combination of solos and group performances, ranging in styles and musical genres. Jmaeff will have a flute solo, accompanied by UCC’s Debra Gaddis, as well as a band set with Hansen, Heald, Oakland’s Matt Hill and North Douglas’ John Leal.
Hanson will also be playing vibraphone — a percussion instrument similar in shape to a xylophone that uses tuned metal bars rather than wooden bars — in a jazz duet with Phoenix’s Justus Mackintosh, premiering an original composition by Heald.
Musical directors will have opportunities to talk about their individual programs and be available to talk with interested students or community members.
“It’s tough as a musician. Performing is part of what you love to do and for almost two years, live performance has been nearly nonexistent,” Jmaeff said. “I think the hardest part has been the absence of community and I think this event is really exciting because we get to have that community again.”
Schools are Alive with the Sound of Music will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday on the outdoor stage at Swanson Memorial Amphitheater at UCC in Winchester. There is no admission fee and guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
“This event achieves so many things,” Heald said. “We all get the opportunity to play and play in front of an audience, an audience that will be outdoors and be distanced so that people can feel comfortable. And at the same time, we will bring visibility to our programs.”