Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra returns with renewed partnership
If You Go
What: Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra season opening performance
When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13,
Where: Mt. Hood Community College Theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham
2019-20 season concerts: Saturday, Dec. 7; Sunday, March 8; and Sunday, May 24
The upcoming Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra season, which kicks off at Mt. Hood Community College on Sunday, Oct. 13, offers a lot for longtime supporters and intrigued newcomers to look forward to: dynamic musical selections, an enthused conductor and a renewed partnership with the college that reincorporates MHCC students into the orchestra after a gap of several years.
The latter, for which talks started about a year ago, allows students studying instrumental music at Mt. Hood to earn college credit and perform in the orchestra's four concerts this season held at MHCC's theater.
MHCC music instructor Dan Davey calls the resurrected collaboration a "mutually beneficial agreement."
"Some sections of the orchestra might need additional musicians," he said. "They can fill out sections when they need more players, and it also gives (the orchestra) a much better rehearsal space. We are excited to welcome them back to campus."
Mt. Hood Pops Conductor Ken Selden, director of orchestral studies at Portland State University, took a moment to talk about the upcoming Pops season, including the debut concert featuring works by Mendelssohn, Cervantes, Dvorak, Cole Porter, and selections from the hit musical "Hamilton" by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Outlook: Please tell us about your conducting background and your role at Portland State University.
Ken Selden: I live in Portland and I've been conducting the Portland State University Orchestra for 13 years. At PSU, I conduct several orchestra concerts each season, as well as our annual opera and ballet productions. Since moving to Portland in 2006, I have conducted many of the orchestras in the area, including the Oregon Symphony, Vancouver Symphony and Salem Chamber Orchestra.
I worked professionally as a violinist before studying conducting, and I have been conducting orchestras for about 20 years.
Outlook: Are you looking forward to the upcoming Pops season?
Selden: Over the years, I have gotten to know our musicians very well, and we always enjoy rediscovering old favorites and exploring new repertoire. This is my 10th season as music director of the Mt. Hood Pops, and I am really looking forward to this season because of our renewed partnership with the Mt. Hood Community College.
Outlook: Why did you choose the six pieces being performed on Oct. 13? Is there a fall or seasonal connection to the pieces?
Selden: The Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra orchestra plays music of all styles, including classical, jazz, Broadway and film. Each of our programs are unique because the selections are quite varied. The October concert features a rarely heard Mendelssohn overture and a movement of the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto. We are also playing music by Cole Porter, a set of Cuban Dances and selections from "Hamilton."
The Christmas concert in December is more seasonal. That concert will include holiday music in addition to music of Tchaikovsky and John Williams's score for Phantom Menace.
Outlook: When did you start working on this season's selections?
Selden: Like many community orchestras, we rehearse one night a week, so that the musicians can balance their orchestral activity with work, family and other activities. We often have six or seven Tuesday night rehearsals before we perform. This year because our October concert is quite early, we started rehearsing in late August, a month before students returned from summer break!
Outlook: What do you think about the renewed partnership with MHCC students, allowing them to play in the orchestra?
Selden: This partnership is really significant to me personally, and to many orchestra members including several of our founding members who continue to play in the orchestra. The Pops was founded in 1977 as part of the Mt. Hood Community College music program, and we have been independent since 1983. Returning to the college at this time is a great way for us to support the training and development of the music students, and for students to have the opportunity to share their talents with the musical community.
We will have several college students joining us Oct. 13, and more throughout the year.
Outlook: Why should someone who's never been to a performance come out this fall, winter and next spring?
Selden: Our audience consists of friends and family of orchestra members, as well as people who support community music-making. We always welcome people who are coming to hear us for their first time. It's a very relaxed atmosphere at our concerts, and people can get coffee and cookies at intermission. People seem to enjoy the variety of selections and being part of our audience community.
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