Youth orchestra set for concert

Patriotism will march right onto the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza when 17-year-old Carlos Lopez raises his baton on the Okto Carmonia youth chamber orchestra’s next concert at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The free, hour-long, Memorial Day-themed performance at 536 Fifth St. in downtown Columbus will include the 12-member student ensemble performing such flag-waving numbers as “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “God Bless America” and others.

Bloomington vocalist Irene Doo, described by some as an artist of “psychedelic folk,” will sing with the group.

Lopez, who hopes to be a professional conductor some day, launched Okto Carmonia two years ago. His ensemble began simply. He attended a meeting with part of the local Japanese community that has been so supportive of him, and organizers asked him to play the flute, along with a Japanese trombone player. From there, he met more instrumental performers, and that sparked the chamber group to begin forming.

He believes the group has matured the more it has performed.

“We’re better overall,” Lopez said. “Finding musicians to play in each concert has always been a challenge. And we continue to look for more musicians.”

At some concerts, professional musicians such as Keith Burton, a trumpet player with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, have performed with the group. Lopez looks forward to the natural concert setting.

“It is a great feeling being able to enjoy music and the weather and the nature at the same time,” he said. “I personally love concerts outside.”

Lopez knew no English when he moved to Columbus from Ecuador with his mom in 2019. Music rehearsals helped him learn quickly. By next year, when the home-schooled senior-to-be graduates high school, he will seek a replacement for his post.