Morgan’s cultural interest has recently grown and is evident with the number enrolled this year in the Morgan Valley Chamber Orchestra. This is their third year and classes are already underway.
“The Morgan Valley Chamber Orchestra has offered beginning strings, intermediate strings and a community orchestra,” explained Amy Ward, MVCO chairman of the board. The string instruments include violin, viola, cello, and bass. Classes are open to all ages.
Teaching two beginner groups, Instructor Marie Griffith stated, “There are a total of 33 new beginners, this year. It’s a really fun experience to work with such great, committed groups of students and parents.”
Abby Beattie, orchestra instructor and conductor, described the groups she instructs. “I am teaching the intermediate group that currently has about 15 students, and the orchestra level group that has 20 participants. About half are adults, either parents of young players or those who just want to learn a new instrument and enjoy playing great music. This is a very unique program that we are lucky to have in this area. It is my opinion that as the program gains more recognition, it will continue to expand and improve.”
The vision of Morgan Valley Chamber Orchestra as written in their mission statement is, “To create a feeling of community through music. Participants will have an environment in which to engage, serve and inspire the community as well as enrich their own lives.”
“This year’s Chamber Orchestra is a group of dedicated and enthusiastic players who love music, and we have been having a lot of fun in rehearsals. We are playing some great music, ranging from Vivaldi to themes from the movie Brave with a few holiday arrangements thrown in,” described Beattie.
We have heard it said that experience is the best teacher. The combined experiences of Griffith and Beattie can set the stage for learning experiences for all the participants.
Griffith started playing the violin when she was 6 years old, and as she grew, the love for music did also. She also plays the viola. Through the years wherever life led her, music has been a constant companion.
Griffith moved to Ogden five years ago, returning to the West after her husband retired. She attended the University of Utah and earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in violin performance. Her husband’s job had them move to California, then Pennsylvania, and then to Georgia.
In each town they moved to, Griffith would play professionally in orchestra and chamber music while also teaching violin. She developed a fairly large violin class that would become the basis of a youth orchestra.
She said,” I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many students and their parents.”
She taught general music in both private and public schools and eventually taught music at Berry College in Georgia. During that time as a music professor, she went back to school and received a teaching degree in her other favorite subject: math. Since moving to Utah, she has been teaching math full-time and teaching music part-time.
Griffith stated, “I’m really enjoying the opportunity to use my training and experience to help the group in Morgan. They have a great program and all the board members are very dedicated and enthusiastic.”
Beattie lives in Mountain Green with her husband and four children. She began playing the violin at age 9 in the Rexburg, Idaho, Madison School District orchestra program. Beattie continued to play through high school and with the Idaho Falls Youth Orchestra as well as take private lessons from several teachers in the area. She continued her musical studies into college at BYU Idaho from 2000 to 2004.
Her interest in music opened memorable doors. While there she loved playing with their Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestras. Beattie had the opportunity to study with LaMar Barrus, Mike Belnap, and Ted Ashton. While in college she toured several European countries with the Rocky Mountain Comrata in 2001.
After graduating with a bachelor of music in music education, Beattie continued to teach private violin lessons and has continued to teaching privately for about 16 years. Since moving to Utah seven years ago, she has become a member of the American Philharmonic, the Vivace Ensemble, and the Ogden Chamber Orchestra, as well as various quartets. Her musical talents have created a way for her to enjoy her work and music while being a stay-at-home mom.
Beattie described her enthusiasm, “I am incredibly grateful and excited to be involved with the Morgan Valley Chamber Orchestra. It is a wonderful opportunity for me as a musician and I have loved getting to know the amazing women of the board and the awesome members of the program.”
Board members include Mindy Wheelwright, Jean Dickson and Amy Ward.
In 2007, Morgan High School senior Crystal Hardman started an after-school strings program for the community. Weber State University began to offer beginning classes and orchestra in Morgan in 2008 as part of National String Consortium. When that program ended in 2010, a small group of students followed the strings lessons to Ogden. Yet this didn’t feel right because it didn’t seem to be part of Morgan.
Ward was part of the group that was instrumental in getting a chamber orchestra established in Morgan County.
A group of women formed a double quartet called, “All Strung Out.” They discovered there was enough talent in the Morgan area to bring the music home. They made it official when they organized a board and brought in attorney Ryan Pace to assist the group and establish it as a non-profit organization.
“Music is a daily commitment,” said Ward. Class time is once a week in the MHS band and choir room. The beginning group runs for a year and intermediate students stay in this group until ready for orchestra, which is determined by the conductor.
There will be a concert Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in the MHS auditorium. Everyone is welcome to come enjoy. Ward expressed appreciation for Principal Wade Murdock and the Morgan School Board for allowing the use of the building for their classes and concert.