Fenton Community Orchestra provides outlet for musicians of all ages

Samantha Smith, Content Editor

Local citizens gather in the Ruby F. Zima Auditorium to play as part of the Fenton Community Orchestra. From high school band students to recreational instrumentalists the sounds of string and percussion fill the air as these musicians from all walks of the musical world perform.

“The Fenton Community Orchestra was established in 2010 by Jennifer Fleck, Kirsten Tesner and Lisa Bayer,” band director Andrew Perkins said. “The goal in mind was to play orchestral music in a local setting. Everyone can come and play. There is no audition process.”

The musicians who make up the FCO are both adults and Fenton students, including senior Michael Chopp.

“I joined the orchestra last spring because I wanted to play my instrument more than I was just being in school band,” Chopp said. “I play the trumpet in the school bands, community orchestra and other ensembles I play in outside of school. I play it because that’s what I chose back in 6th grade, for no particular reason, but I’ve grown to love it a lot.”

While the FCO is not a performance group associated with the FHS curriculum, it is an educational experience. According to their mission statement, “The Fenton Community Orchestra’s purpose is to provide a place for musicians of all ages to connect through music by providing an educational and entertaining music program both for its members and its audiences.”

“I choose a variety of music that meets the developmental readiness of the group, but is also a challenge,” Perkins said. “I also consider how audiences will feel about the music and try to vary the pieces so that we perform across genres and periods. A little classical, a little romantic, modern.”

This transcendence of different eras of music has provided the members of the FCO with an opportunity to be exposed to new forms of musical culture. Junior Erin Casey is an example of how the songs performed by the FCO have both an academic, yet emotional effect.

brienna (5)Photo by Brienna Knieriem

“Some of my favorite songs that we’ve played have been ‘Nocturne’ by Mendelssohn, ‘Carmen Suite’ by Bizet and the ‘Downton Abbey Suite,’” Casey said. “I enjoyed playing those pieces because while playing them I could feel the emotion and it was amazing.”

While the FCO provides this entertaining experience, it is still a performance group that requires work and two hours of weekly rehearsal time.

“Our rehearsals are held every Thursday for two hours,” Casey said. “We usually play through all of the songs and then go back and slowly work through any harder sections that we were struggling with. About half way through we take a break which is usually pretty long but nice because it gives you time to talk to your friends.”

Despite the work and focus that the FCO puts into their performances, they still find time to build not only their musical skills, but their relationships with their fellow orchestra members.

“I am in multiple ensembles in and outside of school and a lot of the people who are in the orchestra are in those with me,” Chopp said. “Music has allowed me to build great relationships with these people.”

The Fenton Community Orchestra usually has two performances during the year, one in December, and another in the spring. This year, their spring performance falls on May 1.