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By Sally Griffin

We helped raise enough money for almost a month of staff salaries at the Lomagundi Medical Clinic in Chinoi, Zimbabwe. All we had to do, along with about 60 other people, was to attend a concert at the small outdoor amphitheater at Wheat Ridge Presbyterian Church. The concert featured the Afro-Pop band, Nokuthula. In talking to the co-founder of Nokuthula, Andre Mallinger, she told us that she loves performing music made for communities by community members – what she calls “community music.” It occurred to me, in a community like ours, there must be more opportunities to participate in community music, if only as audience members.

The first place I found was with the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra (JSO). The JSO is a 75-member community orchestra that began in 1953 among a small group of faculty and students at Colorado School of Mines. This group quickly grew until, in 1957, it was recognized as the largest ensemble, based on community size, in the United States. Today, the JSO is one of the oldest and largest community orchestras in the state of Colorado. Wow! Talk about community music.

The JSO has gone beyond community music to become a community treasure. Its innovative programs include five classical concerts each season; the Jefferson Symphony Showcase, in which solo and chamber musicians perform in small, intimate settings; the Jefferson Symphony International Young Artists Competition, in which top young talent compete for cash and the opportunity to perform the winning concerto with the JSO; and the Free Pops Concert in the Park, performed every August in Parfet Park in Golden.

The all-volunteer orchestra strives to keep its concerts affordable and accessible for all community members. It also provides free tickets to community members who might not, otherwise, be able to afford even the low ticket prices. The free concerts in August seek to provide music for community members of all ages to enjoy. In the best tradition of community music, this artistic resource adds awareness and pleasure to individuals and enhanced quality of life to Jefferson County.

There are five concerts that the JSO will perform this year. The first two are at their normal venue, the Colorado School of Mines’ Green Center. While that is being renovated, the final three concerts will be performed at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church. They take place Sundays and include music of:

• Brahms, Elgar and Beethoven, Oct. 22, 3 p.m.;

• Stravinski and the holidays, Dec. 3, 3 p.m.;

• Tchaikovsky, Mozetich, Debussy and Ravel, Feb. 25, 4 p.m.;

• Prokofiev and and a to-be-announced piano concerto, March 2, 4 p.m.; and

• Piazzolla, de Falla, Copeland, Bernstein and Hovhaness, May 6, 4 p.m.

Visit www.jeffsymphony.org/concerts for ticket information and prices.

Steve Mallison, the Director of Music at Wheat Ridge United Methodist Church, is justifiably proud of his church’s excellent acoustics and contribution to community music. In addition to hosting the Jefferson Symphony, the church will be hosting the following community music events:

• The Golden Community Chorus, Dec. 2, at 3 and 7 p.m.

• The Alpine Chorale, around Easter and Christmas.

• Ralston Valley High School Choirs, at various times during the year.

Mallison can be reached at 303-420-6346.

The Arvada United Methodist Church hosts the Jeffco Adult Community Band, which performs four times a year. This is a true example of community music made by community members and the band encourages all adult players of any band instrument to participate, without audition. They play to enjoy music and share their talents. Contact gorgeouspan@msn.com for more information.

For a change of musical endeavors, the Arvada Center welcomes the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra, which features everything from big band to exciting modern jazz compositions on select Saturdays:

• “West Coast Jazz,” Oct. 7;

• “New York Jazz,” Jan. 20; and

• “Tribute to Buddy Rich,” March 24.

The Arvada Center Box Office, at 720-898-7200, can give you more information, including music subscriptions and individual concert tickets.

The Arvada Center also offers “Coffee Concerts with Jeffrey Siegel.” These are casual musicales during which Siegel discusses and then uses his piano virtuosity to perform engaging compositions, Wednesdays at 11 a.m.:

• “Moods and Tones,” Oct. 4;

• “Joyous Beethoven,” Nov. 1;

• “The Classic Moderns,” Jan. 17; and

• “Storytelling through Music,” March 14.

For more information: http://arvadacenter.org/jeffrey-siegel-coffee-concerts

Siegel also does “Keyboard Conversations,” Wednesday evening concerts (7:30 p.m.) that invite the community to interact with the performer. Before performing, he talks about each piece to help the audiences experience music in new ways and encourages the audience to engage in the music by asking questions.

• “Celebrating Leonard Bernstein,” Oct. 4;

• “Music of the Night – The Beautiful and the Bizarre,” Nov. 1;

• “Love Inspired Music of Three Great Romantics – Chopin, Schumann and Liszt,” Jan. 17; and

• “A Musical Kinship – Bach and Chopin,” March 14.

For more information: https://arvadacenter.org/on-stage/jeffrey-siegel-keyboard-conversations-2

The Arvada Center is also a place for the Front Range Youth Symphony Orchestras that bring together talented young musicians from across the Front Range for unique study and training in orchestral repertoire. It is so successful that the group has toured on both coasts of the United States. The program is intended to be an enhancement to school music programs and has participants perform in three concerts per season at the Arvada Center, held Mondays at 7 p.m.:

* Fall Concert, Oct. 23;

* Winter Concert, Feb. 5; and

* Spring Concert, April 30.

For more information: https://arvadacenter.org/education/youth-symphony

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in community music within our community. Please take advantage of the wonderful musical adventures that exist right here in our own county. Who knows, you may have the opportunity to help pay the staff salaries of some groups closer to home.