For nearly two months, Columbia County Youth Orchestra members have gathered once a week to play a variety of musical selections, ranging from Green Day to Mozart.
Their work will be showcased Saturday at 3 p.m. with a free concert at the Augusta Christian Schools former elementary campus at 470 Furys Ferry Road.
"I think it's really going to be a coming out," said youth orchestra conductor Scott Richardson. "I think people that come in here are going to be amazed and impressed at the talent that resides within the county.
"It is an awesome group of kids."
The youth orchestra was the brainchild of Richardson and Rob Nordan, conductor of the Columbia County Civic Orchestra and Augusta Christian Schools band director.
Richardson said he wanted to provide musically inclined pupils who play stringed instruments with an opportunity to play within a group.
"It really is important to have groups like this that give students that energy to go and realize what's really out there in the arts world," he said.
The group has attracted 43 members from county middle and high schools and Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.
"I hope the first thing is that they get an appreciation for their own community," said Richardson, who also is the band director at Warren County High School and teaches music privately. "We want to build an identity for their community at large."
The youth orchestra will perform Alaska! by area composer Kay Lovingood, Russian Sailor's Dance by Reinhold Gliere, Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar, Salute to Broadway, arranged by Carl Strommen, The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart, in addition to selections from the band Green Day.
"I wanted to do a wide variety, so the kids had a really good appreciation for different genres of music, not just heavy classical (and) not just the modern stuff," Richardson said.
A smaller group from the orchestra also will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday during the Columbia County School System's book fair at Barnes & Noble in the Augusta Mall.
Augusta Christian pupils and youth orchestra members Rachel Ringstrom and Kendell Hall said they learned about the youth orchestra through Nordan, their band director.
"It's really cool, because I get to stretch out my experience and learn new things that I haven't learned yet," said Rachel, an eighth-grader who plays the flute. "In the summer, you don't get much practice, because you're usually doing a bunch of other stuff, and so it kind of helps you stay with it."
"This is the first Columbia County (Youth) Orchestra, and I really wanted to be part of something like that," said Kendell, a seventh-grader.
Richardson said he plans to continue the program once school starts in August.
"It's really taken on a life of its own," he said. "We really want to see this continue throughout the year, because there just is a need for it."
Rehearsals will be held Tuesday nights in the Augusta Christian band room.
For more information about the Columbia County Youth Orchestra, visit www.columbiacco.org.
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