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Student orchestras part of youth performance

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Jennings County Middle School’s seventh- and eighth-grade orchestras will be among five youth musical groups taking center stage in Columbus.

More than 120 area students will combine their talents at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the 11th annual Philharmonic String Orchestra Invitational at The Commons.

Central Middle School’s orchestra, the McKelvie String Studio and Columbus’ Philharmonic Youth Orchestra also will perform.

“This is great fun,” said David Bowden, who will use his skills as music director

of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic to bring the groups together to play as one large orchestra.

“This will be the first time each of these kids will play in such a large orchestra, in front of such a large crowd and in a place as large as The Commons. It will be an exciting experience they will always remember,”

he added.

The annual event was started by Vanessa Edwards, the philharmonic’s education director, as a way to encourage young area musicians to continue their musical studies, Bowden said. Every year, Edwards selects and recruits different area youth orchestras to participate in the event. She selects the music and coordinates the groups, he added.

A variety of dance music will be among the selections, including “Ballad of the Silver Spur,” “Southwind,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Don’t Have That Zing” and a polka. Other selections include “A Gaelic Castle” and “March of the Bowmen.”

“Hats off to Vanessa; she is at the core of this, and she is the reason it is such a positive social occasion for the kids.

It’s fun and exciting for them, and it is fun and exciting for me. I love to see the kids that think they are not very good or not very interested come alive and see how exciting it is to play well,” Bowden said.

Each orchestra practices the music separately, and then they come together to practice on the day of the concert.

“We want to make it fun for them. We work on our music at the group rehearsal, and then we break for pizza and each of the kids gets a T-shirt to mark the occasion. We want to make it an exciting opportunity for them,” Edwards said.

Bowden, Edwards and Eric Jarboe, Jennings County Middle School’s orchestra director, each will serve as the director during the concert.

The concert is free and open to the public.

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