Imagine convincing professional musicians to audition for an orchestra that offers three major concerts per season, plays them three times each, and does it all for free. Now imagine accomplishing such a feat 50 years in a row. The Central Oregon Symphony (COS) has been doing just that—and aims to continue doing it.
Now heading into its 50th season, COS has been providing the Central Oregon community with live classical music performances featuring renowned guest artists since 1967. The orchestra is made up of musicians from a variety of backgrounds, mastering their instruments while attending prestigious music schools, local music programs or regional universities.
Since its inception COS has developed a variety of additional concerts and programs for the community, including an annual concert for children, a Young Artist Competition, Music in Public Places chamber concerts, and a Symphony Stars Program that provides music education in Central Oregon's public schools.
A brief look over the Symphony's history reveals the breadth of what it has accomplished in its half-century of existence. From launching its first Children's Concert in 1973, to forming the Central Oregon Symphony Association (COSA) nonprofit in 1992, as well as two Eastern Oregon tours, it's clear that the orchestra has flourished.
According to Board Member Joan Hinds, the COSA is compiling information about the Symphony's 50 years of history and turning it into a booklet to be offered as a part of the 50th anniversary season celebration. Their research has uncovered some interesting facts. "We have found about 880 people have played in the symphony over the past 50 years," Hinds says. They also amassed a list of past conductors. "Finding the list of conductors with the right dates was difficult," says Hinds.
As for this year, COS's current conductor Michael Gesme, describes the season as, "a nod to more than two centuries of orchestral music and musicians." Gesme recently released the upcoming 50th Anniversary Season musical program, featuring works from composers of six different nationalities, various styles of composition including symphonies, concert and dance, music that was composed as far back as 1786, and music that will be completed in 2017.
The season schedule begins with an anniversary kick-off party on Sept. 25 at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend. The Pacific Coast Horns will come from Los Angeles to entertain while attendees enjoy a bistro-style dinner and show.
The 50th season schedule includes A Starlight Serenade at Sunriver Observatory in October, featuring vocal music and dessert, as well as the 2016-2017 concert series boasting a lineup of visiting artists including pianist Kotaro Fukuma and violinist Linda Wang.
The season ends with a Musicians' Appreciation Dinner in May, where current and past orchestra members and COS donors will gather to celebrate COS's first 50 years.
When asked what the Symphony's hopes are for the next 50 years, Hinds says, "Since I've been here the quality has improved every year. Our hope is that it will continue to flourish."
Central Oregon Symphony
50th Anniversary Bistro Party
Sunday, Sept. 25, 6pm
Riverhouse Convention Center
3075 N Hwy 97, Bend
$50 COSA Members