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Who Are They?: Bay Chambers, Part 2

February 4, 2015

Odeon

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School is the first organization being highlighted. Located in Rockport, they provide rich music opportunities for students of all ages in the mid-coast area. Monica Kelly is the Executive Director and you can learn more at http://www.baychamberconcerts.org/. This post was written by Monica about their program called Odeon.

Marti Stone photo

Marti Stone photo

I don’t really know how it happened. I am not a strings player. My children weren’t either. But somehow I managed to found Odeon, a community string orchestra in 2000 in mid-coast Maine.

I had been involved with Bay Chamber Concerts for four years as a trustee and kept hearing about the concerns that there were no string ensemble programs in our area and the Next Generation program, a summer camp for Maine youth interested in playing chamber music together, was struggling to find participants. At the same time, my three young boys were attending the Riley School, an arts-focused K-9 school in Rockport and I was chair of the parent committee. The then director, Glenna Plaisted, a true visionary educator, said to me that she thought we should start an orchestra at Riley. Well, the truth was that the school didn’t have enough students to make that happen, so I convinced her to partner with me in writing a grant to the MBNA Foundation, which at that time was funding a lot of arts education programs in our community. Low and behold we were awarded a small sum which we used to hire our first conductor, the amazing Augusto Salazar. Not only was he an amazing musician, he was willing to drive to Rockport each week from Kittery because he believed so much in what we were doing.

Marti Stone photo

Marti Stone photo

So on a cold January night in 2000, eight children, ages 8-18 showed up to audition for the Odeon Ensemble. We had three quite advanced students, and a handful of intermediate and beginning ones to boot. Kindly a couple of the parents who played stringed instruments agreed to sit in and help out. At the debut concert held that spring, the first work on the program was called “Warm-up – the scale in G major”!!!

Quickly the program began to grow and within 5 years we were up to 40 members in three ensembles. Some of the students at that time were quite advanced and we experienced some glorious moments of music before they all graduated and went off to schools like Oberlin, Wellesley, and Tufts. And then, in 2006 we were invited to merge with Bay Chamber Concerts.

Throughout the years Odeon has evolved and the groupings have changed. Our latest configuration is as follows: Allegro, for beginning young string musicians; Symphony, for intermediate youth in strings, winds, brass and piano; and the Adult Ensemble. We perform at least two formal concerts per year and seek opportunities to play in assisted living facilities, schools, etc. We even did a flash mob in Hannaford’s and Reny’s one year!

It has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life to foster this program and see it evolve, grow and adapt to the people who make it happen. I am grateful to the musicians who have led Odeon over the years: Augusto Salazar, Gilda Joffe, Marshunda Smith, Deirdre McClure, Nate Martin and new to this spring, Sarah Glenn, for their contributions in building a community orchestra for mid-coast Maine. And I cannot write a complete story of Odeon’s history without mentioning two supporters from the board of Bay Chamber who have given their hearts and souls to the ensembles because of their belief in the value of being music makers; Eleanor Poe Barlow and Caroline E. Seamans.

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