Allegheny Mountain String Orchestra Concert Features Commissioned Piece

The Allegheny Mountain String Orchestra is performing it’s spring concert on Sunday, May 15.  The String Orchestra is a program that includes musicians and instructors from Allegheny, Bath and Highland Counties and other nearby areas.  The musicians are students who are typically in the kindergarten through 12th grade age group.

Greta Sandberg is the Orchestra Director and is the instructor in Highland County.

“It is a program for kids to learn string instruments and we like to give them opportunities to learn all different styles of playing, once they get their chops in order, their skills more advanced, so that they can start doing anything from bluegrass to Bach,” says Sandberg.

The concert will feature a new piece of music, written by a living composer.  Sandberg met Brian Scarbrough at Foxes Music Company in Falls Church, Virginia, where she gets instruments for the students when they start playing.   She learned he was a composer and with the backing of the Highland County Arts Council, she asked Scarbrough to create a commissioned piece.

“The concert is going to be a really interesting program, in that this is the first time the orchestra will be back playing for the public, the composer will be there and one of the kids said ‘You know, how fun it will be to meet somebody who’s a living composer, is not dead’,” says Sandberg.  “So many of the composers that we play, you know, they’re long dead.  So, I think this will be a really interesting program for people to hear a young composer’s work and he’s going to be at the program and say a few words and so on.  Just a really unique opportunity.”

Brian Scarbrough:

“As soon as someone can start detailing me about a certain either kind of piece they’re looking for, or maybe a certain atmosphere or something like, that my mind immediately starts to work in the background,” says Scarbrough.  “I know for me, as a composer, I naturally just have things floating around in my head all the time.  It makes a good personable radio when driving home sometimes.  I don’t have to have the radio on, I can just kind of sit there and, you know, listen to the thoughts.  I know driving back and forth to work, for example, I’ve definitely come up with quite a few things.  Some just kind of start out of nowhere and some things have come from improvisation.   You know, sometimes I have another work that might have a piece of something, that if I go back and listen to it, and I’ll say ‘You know what?  That little piece right there, I can probably turn that into something else’ and that becomes a whole new project of its own too.”

The piece Scarbrough wrote is entitled Embark.

“In fourth grade, I started violin in elementary school and about six months after that I started hearing music in my head and as I was learning all the basics of musicianship, that was when I started to write down some of these things I kept hearing in my head,” says Scarbrough.  “Over the years as I progressed in my musical education, and my experiences in being in orchestra in school, I also continued writing and once I finished high school that was when, I decided, I realized my passion is actually being in that creative process and putting the thoughts down on paper and then seeing them come to life.  It’s a feeling that never gets old.”

The Allegheny Mountain String Orchestra’s Spring Concert is Sunday, May 15, at 3 pm at Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs.  The concert is free admission.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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