Here's the Slocan Community Intergenerational String Orchestra. Well, most of them. We're missing four members from the photo. I love the combination of grey hair and cherubic younger faces, teens and middle-aged folk. That's me on the lower left with Fiona's forehead showing in front of me. She enthusiastically attends all rehearsals and performances -- even on the rare occasions when she has any choice in the matter -- so it's only fitting that she be halfway in the picture. Behind me is Noah with his funky-shaped viola. To the right of Noah is Sophie. Beside Sophie is R., the elder stateswoman of the orchestra, who only took up violin in her mid-sixties, and didn't really take it seriously until a still-later decade. Behind and between Sophie and R. is Erin. Elsewhere in the cluster are Erin's closest friend since age 6, Noah's viola buddy / pseudo-big-brother, the cellist from Noah's quartet, the cellist from Erin's & my quartet, and a number of adults who have watched all these kids grow up -- from babies into beginning string students into competent members of the orchestra.
Last weekend we played two numbers on a potpourri "Celebration of the Arts" concert in nearby Nakusp. It was fun for me to see the group through the eyes of an audience that doesn't know us in the way our local audience does. They were stunned that we didn't sound like a beginning school orchestra -- that we played fast, and mostly in tune, and with some dynamics and phrasing and not a lot of wrong notes. They loved the intergenerational mix and the dedication and evident pleasure with which this motley group comes together.
Recently I've been fretting a lot over the lack of a violin teacher for Erin. Sure, she doesn't have a violin teacher right now, and yes, we'll likely have to do some serious travelling to make something happen. But who would have imagined, thirteen years ago when we moved to a community of 600 inhabitants, hours from a real city and without a single string teacher, that our kids would be able to grow up with the sorts of opportunities they are getting. Erin is soloing the Mozart G Major violin concerto 1st movement with this orchestra next month. Noah is soloing the first and second movements of the Telemann viola concerto in G at the same concert. Sophie is playing second violin in an orchestra that offers a level of challenge typical of a well-coached intermediate big-city youth orchestra. Erin has a string quartet of lapsed professionals to play in. Noah has an well-matched group of kids with which he has formed his own string quartet. My three elder kids are performing the original arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon in D with a darned decent-sounding ensemble of Suzuki violinists. In the summer, top Suzuki and traditional teachers from all over Canada come to our little village and teach at the Valhalla Fine Arts summer programs -- the Suzuki Valhalla Institute, the VSSM and the VIP Program.
So today I'm counting our blessings, feeling very proud of this wonderful, big-hearted, diverse group of community string musicians, and grateful that they have helped provide a musical family for my children to grow up in.