Beaufort County Community Orchestra violinists Hannah Arvanites (left), Emily Hardison (second from right) and Sierra Barker (right) practice for Sunday’s Christmas concert. The free concert at First Christian Church starts at 3 p.m. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

Archived Story

Community orchestra growing by the dozen

Published 9:19pm Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Sunday will be a debut of sorts for about a dozen members of the Beaufort County Community Orchestra.
The local talent now includes violinists ranging in age from 11 to 14 and a harpist.
The violinists are students of the Suzuki method.
They learned to play the violin by ear and have only recently learned to read music.
“They’re growing up,” said their instructor, Dawn Pooser. “In the past, we’ve featured them in the concert. But, this is the first year we’ve thrown them in with the adults.”
The violinists have been practicing daily for their debut.
Hannah Arvanites said playing in the Christmas concert is always nerve-wracking.
“You’re standing in front of a bunch of people with people who know what they’re doing,” she explained.
This year, the nerves have really gone amuck. Instead of doing a carol or two, the violinists have three full pieces in which they have learned to read, keep count and play their hearts out.
Haleigh Barker, 14, had no trouble identifying the toughest part of practicing the pieces.
“The counting. Definitely the counting,” she said.
Annabeth Pooser, 12, said learning the new music was her greatest challenge.
The students will perform “Away in the Manger,” “Bring a Torch” and one of Bach’s Minuets.
At age 11, Abigail Sottile is one of the youngest of the new additions. She started playing two years ago.
“I think it’s gonna be real fun,” Sottile said of Sunday’s performance.
The students were enthusiastic about the orchestra’s other addition, Washington harpist Michele Harris. Some were tempted to learn to play the harp, too.
Originally classically trained in piano, Harris said she decided to broaden her musical knowledge.
“(My) discovery of the pedal harp grew into a profound love for the instrument,” Harris said.
When Michele is not performing at formal events, much of her energy is devoted to playing at hospitals, nursing homes and churches, particularly at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Harris said, “music can touch the hearts and health” of those around her.
“(I am) excited to have been invited to join the Beaufort County Community Orchestra and look forward to developing a harmonious relationship with them,” Harris said.

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