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8 March 3 - 16, 2012

Orchestra From Page 1 Well, it’s time to dust off those instruments and break out

the rosin and cork grease, says Katherine Shields, director of the San Tan Orchestra, an all-volunteer ensemble created to bring local musicians out of the closet and into the spotlight. “Performance is something you take for granted while

you’re still in school,” explains the Clemente Ranch resident, “but once you get out, it’s harder to find opportuni- ties like that. Instrumental music is a lifelong skill. That’s why there are community orchestras.” The San Tan Orchestra was formed in 2006 to accompany

San Tan Chorale, founded by Betty and Matthew Frable to bring performance opportunities to adults. Last year the orchestra began performing as a stand-alone group, while still supporting the chorale. The ensemble participated in Halloween- and Christmas-themed performances, took place in the recent Western Vistas Concert, an official Arizona Centennial Event and will perform a Haydn oratorio with the chorale this spring. “The thing that makes us different is that we don’t have

auditions,” says Shields, who has a doctorate in performance. “We take anyone 15 and older who can play the music.” Participation is free, and current members, many from

Southern Chandler and Sun Lakes, include those who played in school as well as those who took up an instrument as an adult. The orchestra is recruiting all instruments, and Shields welcomes home-schooled high school students. “There’s nothing like having a chance to play your instru-

ment in an ensemble,” she says. “It’s so much more satisfy- ing than just sitting at home alone and playing.” Before concerts, orchestra members receive emailed invita-


BRENDA BARK Owner & Trainer


tions and are told how many of each instrument are needed. A roster is assembled based on member availabil- ity, and four rehearsals are held before performance day. While Shields selects music that suits the group’s strengths, “we don’t play arrangements,” she explains. “We play original work. These are real

pieces and some of them are not partic- ularly easy. We make the parts available on our website, and people can check it out and decide if it’s something they want to do. If they’re really interested in doing it, and if it’s been a long time since they pulled out that trumpet or cello, we’re happy to hook them up with somebody who could give them a couple of lessons.” Shields is looking forward to May’s performance of Haydn’s

MAKING MUSIC: San Tan Orchestra Director Katherine Shields, right, instructs members during a recent performance. Submitted photo

“Music, especially instrumental music, has been cut back in a

“The Seasons,” which she calls “an absolutely fabulous piece. The kind of piece that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.” But they need some help to get there. “We’re going to need a trombone section, meaning we’ll

need three trombones, and we’ll need more string players. I know they’re out there.” For Shields, who first learned to play the viola in her own

school’s program, her orchestra exists not only to provide a creative outlet for its members, but to bring an important ser- vice to the community.

lot of places,” she says. “Professional orchestras are cutting back. Schools are cutting back. So if people who play don’t get out and play, then the world doesn’t have concerts. And I think it’s very inspiring for people who are still in school to realize that there’s somewhere to go with this – the study of music.” Interested musicians can join the orchestra’s email roster by

emailing To learn more about San Tan Community Performing Arts, including concert information, visit

K. M. Lang lives and writes in Sun Groves. To contact her, email

For a list of locations where to find the SanTan Sun News, visit and click on Community.

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