Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra celebrates spring with guest soloist, conductor
If you go
What: Mt. Hood Pops Youth Concert featuring special guest conductor Andre Gaspar and guest youth trumpeter Josh Friesen
When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26
Where: Mt. Hood Community College Theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham
Tickets: General admission, $15, seniors, $10. Call 503-701-8019 or visit Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra on Facebook
The month of May can be counted on for many things: flowers, rain showers, graduations, Mother's Day and Memorial Day among them.
After more than two decades, you can add the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra's Youth Concert featuring a guest conductor and youth soloist to the list.
"This is our 24th, or something," says Marilyn Pierik, longtime Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra manager and viola player, in her understated manner. "In the spring we always have a high school soloist. It's often been string players. This year it happens to be a trumpet player."
This year's concert, at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at the Mt. Hood Community College Theater, features guest conductor Andre Gaspar leading Leroy Anderson's "Trumpeter's Lullaby," Duke Ellington's "A Medley for Orchestra," Giuseppe Verdi's "Nabucco Overture," Felix Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave Overture (The Hebrides)" and Josef Haydn's "Minuet (movement No. 3)" from Symphony 104
"He's just great," Pierik says of Gaspar, a new teacher and orchestra/band director this year at Reynolds High School. "He's doing a good job. He's young. I can say that because I'm not."
Even younger is guest soloist Josh Friesen, 17, who will perform "Bride of the Waves" by Herbert L. Clarke with the approximately 50-piece Mt. Hood Pops.
The Clackamas High School junior, who serves as principal trumpet in the CHS jazz band and its wind ensemble, has qualified for the State Solo and Ensemble Competition the past three years. This year he received first place in the Oregon Music Educators' district solo competition and fourth in the Oregon School Activities Association state trumpet solo contest.
To select its soloist, the orchestra draws from a pool of musicians east of 82nd Avenue who fare well in state competitions, Pierik noted.
As time for joint rehearsals at St. Aidan's Church in Rockwood is minimal, Pierik trusts the professionalism and passion of all parties will prevail on the 26th.
"He will come on as a soloist," she says of Friesen. "He works on his number, we work on the accompaniment and hope it all comes together in good order."
According to bio information, Friesen, who started playing the trumpet nearly six ago, enjoys performing in his church orchestra, teaching kids how to play the trumpet and playing piano. When not blowing a horn, his hobbies include hiking, hunting and camping. Friesen plans to go to college to be a music teacher.
"I think this kid is going to grow up and be a music teacher at some point," Pierik notes.
Incorporated in 1983, the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra draws musicians of all ages from around East Multnomah County. Some come from as far as Estacada and Ridgefield, Wash.
"We have a variety of skills in the orchestra, teachers and various professionals. Many do other jobs or are retired at this point," says Pierik, a retired librarian. "I'm one of the more senior members, but we have some kids in eighth grade. If you can play music, you can play with us ... it's an all-ages organization."
While Pierik describes the spring concert as "a pleasant afternoon of light classical and old popular music that's familiar," she stresses that the ensemble — which has stretched at times to include 60 members — is not for the casual music dabbler.
"The Pops plays Schubert as Schubert wrote it. We don't play reductions," she says. "The players are pretty high caliber.
"We're trying to keep up our skills and enjoy music rest of our lives," she adds, "from early age to old age."
The Mt. Hood Pops spring concert has received support from a grant from the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Cultural Trust.