North Marion siblings shine on stage
North Marion junior Amelia Gianella, and two of her four brothers, Husky alumni Colby and Logan Gianella, combine their musical talents to form the Gianella Trio. The group filled the Woodburn United Methodist Church with music, ushering in the second installment in the much-awaited return of the "Who's on Third?" Community Concert series, which runs on the third Saturday of the month. The group plans to play again at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Woodburn next month.
It almost seems normal now, but such musical events have been missed! Concert Coordinator Trudy Fowlks says the "Who's on Third?" series, which debuted in 2006, left a hole in the community when it closed for two years during the pandemic.
"I had people say: 'When will it start up again? I want to see people; I want to do things,'" Fowlks said. "We're thankful to be able to get it started and to be able to provide just a little bit of culture to the people in the community."
Through the Gianellas, North Marion is connected to this tradition, and is instrumental in its return and in bringing music to the whole community through supporting church music and performing at a host of local events. The Gianellas brighten the local musical scene, and part of that is because North Marion School District is so musical itself.
For instance, raising the curtain on the beloved "Who's on Third?" series last month was retired North Marion Middle School Music Teacher Roger Wilhite, and his wife, Nancy, also a retired music educator. Roger Wilhite taught the Gianellas how to play piano, and they'll be demonstrating all they've learned from him and other North Marion teachers along the way.
"We all attribute a large portion of our musical training to Roger," said Colby Gianella in a recent WI guest article by Fowlkes.
That training led to the creation of a diverse musical repertoire. A few of the pieces to be featured at the "Who's on Third?" Community Concert held last week included:
• Leonard Cohen's heartbreaking ballad, "Hallelujah";
• Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor, also called "Pathétique";
• "I'll Fly Away," a church standard written by Albert Brumley in 1929;
• "Up Is Down," a rollicking number from "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"; and
• "If I Didn't Have You," a jazzy, joyful piece from "Monsters, Inc."
Some of the pieces they perform call for vocals, and while every member of the Gianella Trio sings beautifully, Amelia Gianella frequently solos. She is skilled with the piano, guitar and violin. But that's hardly all she does. She also plays piano for the Christ Lutheran Church of Aurora, has been in the Salem Youth Symphony for five years and has a gig twice a week at the Allison Hotel and Spa in Newberg. Yet, despite having so many opportunities to entertain, this young musician is always thrilled to share the spotlight with her family.
"I'm excited," she said before the concert. "It's a chance to perform with my brothers. They're my friends, and we have a lot of fun playing together."
There are five Gianella siblings, and they all have musical abilities, although two of them have other interests that pull them even more strongly than music. Amelia Gianella said that the reason that all of them are musically inclined is because their family has always been encouraging.
"It's really nice," she said. "My grandparents are really supportive and so are my mom and dad. I'm grateful to them and for their support."
Her brothers also say they appreciate all that the family has done, enrolling them in lessons when they were young. That support fueled their college focus. Logan Gianella (North Marion Class of 2018) graduated from Oregon State University this past June, earning a double degree in Bio Health and Piano Performance. He has his eye on dental school. In addition, he has been playing piano for Immanuel Lutheran Church in Woodburn for seven years, starting when he was only 15. Yet despite all that he is juggling, just like his sister, being a part of the Gianella Trio matters to him and fills him with happiness.
"We've all had the same piano teachers," he said. "We've all gone through the same High School. We definitely have a connection where I know I can count on them, and I don't have to be nervous about how they're going to perform."
Logan Gianella said performing affords him the opportunity to tap into his skill with a host of instruments. He's not only a guitarist and pianist, but a drummer and an accordion player.
Colby Gianella (North Marion Class of 2020) plays the same instruments as his brother, too, except the accordion, which he doesn't work with as much. He regularly taps into his skills with instruments at school and at work. Colby Gianella is a junior studying Music Education at the University of Oregon. He plans to teach choir and currently is the Music Director at the Church of God in Eugene. At the concert held on Nov. 19, he's eager to see members of the community he hasn't connected with yet and to play music with his brother and sister, whom he no longer sees as frequently because of their busy schedules. He added that sharing music with an audience is its own gift.
"I think it's special to perform music anywhere, but I'm greatly looking forward to performing in Woodburn for the people of that town, mainly just because I'll be with these people that I know and close to the town that I grew up in," Colby Gianella said.
All five Gianella siblings grew up in Aurora. The other Gianella siblings are: Ethan, who graduated from North Marion in 2021, possesses a passion for welding and mechanics; and Miles, a North Marion freshman who is active in basketball and football.
However, there's yet another Gianella linked to the School District, their mom, Amy Gianella, an English teacher at North Marion High School (and whose aunt, retired educator Lorraine Gianella, also worked for the School District). Amy Gianella (North Marion Class of 1988) said that she's proud of all her children for supporting their community with events like the recent concert and with their charity work. She encourages people to attend her children's concerts, as they're joyful and often benefit charity
"Meet people and enjoy some music," she said.
Their father, Jason Gianella (North Marion Class of 1988), is a hazardous materials firefighter and is on the Woodburn Fire District Board of Directors.
"He is very loving, devoted and supportive of each of his children," said Ron Ramsey, grandfather of the Gianella siblings.
Ron and Miriam Ramsey
Their maternal grandparents, Ron and Miriam Ramsey, say the Gianella Trio shines on stage. Miriam Ramsey particularly loves Colby Gianella's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
"It brings tears to our eyes, my husband and I, when we hear him play that," she said.
They respect the musical gifts of their grandchildren so much that Ron Ramsey wrote a letter to the editor in the WI urging others to attend the "Who's on First?" concert. However, he didn't just pen that letter because his grandchildren are gifted, although they certainly are (there are seven grandchildren including two equally musical Ramsey grandchildren living in Portland).
"I would just say that they really are not only talented and smart — they're just such nice human beings," he said. "I think that nice human beings don't always get the recognition that they deserve."
The Gianellas truly are kind and good young people. During the often-isolating pandemic, the Gianella siblings stood outside their grandparents' house and played music for them to bring them cheer and so they wouldn't be lonely.
"We are very, very proud of them, and we know they will do well in life because they are so thoughtful and are very good kids," Mimi Ramsey said.
So, if you're looking for an enjoyable evening of community and music featuring some talented, good-hearted kids, see if you can catch another show with the Gianellas. They plan to perform again this December at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Woodburn. More details to come!
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