Orcas has strong support for school music | Letters

On Sunday, March 4, the Orcas community enjoyed a real musical treat, the 21st Annual Music Advocacy Group Benefit Concert. The school’s old gym was filled to capacity. An audience member commented, “This MAG concert is my favorite concert of the year, and I attend a lot of concerts! I never miss it!”

The audience enjoyed a wide-ranging selection of music, including a 1920s Irving Berlin classic sung by the Orcas Choral Society; a lovely arrangement of “Amazing Grace” performed by Island Sinfonia; and an exciting medley of folk music, “Hootenanny,” by Orcas Island Community Band. All three groups have performed in all 21 annual school benefit concerts! Another highlight was the combined high school and middle school bands’ performance of “Pirates of the Caribbean” that included a debut of the new orchestral chimes, purchased by MAG for the school as a result of the community’s contributions through the OICF holiday catalog in December.

Jazz musician and MAG advisor Steve Alboucq spoke of lasting friendships fostered by playing music since his school days and sent a call to action for the Orcas community to get involved in school music by reaching out to students, sharing their knowledge and inspiring them with their musical passion.

It was wonderful to meet and catch up with concert-goers and MAG supporters at the post-concert reception where we also enjoyed an impressive display of art from students in grades K-5, set up by Art for Orcas Kids (A-OK).

This annual concert is both a joyous celebration of school music and a gift to the community, in gratitude for your generous support for school music. It is also the principal fund-raising event that enables MAG to provide half of OISD’s school music budget. This funds a variety of needs like bus transportation for trips to the mainland for music clinics and competitions that benefit our students’ music skills through their interactions with other musicians in the wider world; purchasing new instruments like a string bass this past fall; and professional development opportunities for our two music teachers. On Tuesday, March 6, your generous support enabled elementary music teacher Pamela Wright to take the third, fourth and fifth grades (with accompanying teachers and parents) to visit the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, with the bonus of an educational afternoon program in the Burke Museum. The museum visit was funded by an individual MAG board member.

So far, the donations received by MAG just before and after the concert totaled just over $7,000, and there is still time for supporters of school music to contribute, either by mailing a check (made out to MAG) to PO Box 1171, Eastsound, WA 98245, or by donating online through our website: oimag.org.

To all of you in the Orcas Island community who understand that music enhances learning and brings enrichment for a lifetime, and are so generous in your support for the Orcas school music programs, please accept our heartfelt thanks! School music really does matter!

Miriam Ziegler

President, Music Advocacy Group