Monday, March 18, 2013

Beatrice Regional Orchestra: Providing a bridge between small communities and the arts

Lincoln and Omaha are Nebraska’s largest cities and have numerous Classical music events. But what about the smaller cities and towns in the state?
Beatrice, Nebraska, is a relatively short 40-minute drive down Hwy 77 from Lincoln, and people are working hard to bring Classical music to the community there. Kevin Boesiger has been conducting and managing the Beatrice Regional Orchestra since 2010, and wants to invite you to come out and hear the concert put on entirely by local musicians of Beatrice and nearby communities.
“Around the World” will take place this coming Friday, March 22, at 7pm in the Hevelone Center at the Beatrice High School, 600 Orange Blvd. in Beatrice. Tickets are $5 at the door and students get in free! You can visit the Beatrice Regional Orchestra facebook page for more information. Enjoy a nice drive down Hwy 77 in the (hopefully) spring weather, and see what Beatrice has to offer.
Boesiger sat down to explain why and how he’s working so hard to put together events like this one:
“We have to work really hard to get all the players we need but we have been able to sustain this orchestra by stretching beyond just Beatrice. We have players that come from about a 40-mile range, but all the musicians come from smaller towns in our area. We work with what we have. This does create a challenge, but we have been able to make things work quite well and have continued to present quality concerts. We also range in age from 15 to 85 years of age. We have some of the really good high school players involved and it is a great mix of young and old playing along side each other. Our more experienced musicians do a great job of helping out the ones with less experience. It is really a cool thing to see!”
At this point, Boesiger explained, there is no audition to join the orchestra. “Our biggest hurdle has been having more winds than we need and not enough strings. We do ask people to contact me first because if we have a section already full and don't need another player we have to work around that. I have had to tell some players occasionally that we don't have an open spot. This does change some from year to year depending on who is able to play, so I encourage people to check back... We try to include as many people as possible since we are a community orchestra not a professional symphony.”
The orchestra rehearses every Tuesday evening from September to May and performs four concerts in their season. Boesiger includes area highschool choirs on one of the concerts. The goal in this, just as it is with the choir itself is to “do things to encourage our student musicians”—in this way, the Beatrice Regional Orchestra is giving many of the schools in the area a chance to sing with an orchestra. They also sponsor a Senior Soloist Competition in the spring and choose one vocalist and instrumentalist to perform on the final concert in May.
Boesiger feels that they are doing an important task for the community. “Many communities are feeling cuts in the school system when it comes to music and Beatrice is one of those communities. We are able to provide a great experience for some of those serious players in high school. We are also able to provide a great concert at a VERY reasonable rate to many people in our area who might not be able to afford getting to Lincoln or Omaha. People come knowing they are going to enjoy whatever is on the program for the evening."
Boesiger described it as being “a bridge to get people more interested in other programs in the arts.” At the concerts, he always highlights what is going on in other communities and encourages audiences that “if you enjoyed the performance to consider checking out the Lincoln Symphony.”
Oftentimes, the Beatrice Regional Orchestra is introducing people to the arts for the first time: “Since we are a small town you would be amazed at the number of people who have not experienced orchestral music and assume it would be a long night of boring music. We are working hard to break down that conception and give people something we know they will enjoy.” 

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