Music for all ages - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Music for all ages

Intergenerational orchestra puts retirees, kids together

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Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 11:00 pm

The Northwest Intergenerational Community Orchestra performs its spring concert this Sunday, April 25.

The free concert will be held in the gym at Coronado K-8 School beginning at 3 p.m.

NICO's 40 musicians are comprised of students in grades 6-12 who play alongside adults from Northwest communities, including Oro Valley, SaddleBrooke and Catalina.

Dr. Mark Nelson, who teaches music at Pima Community College, is the director of the orchestra. He makes a point to make sure the diverse players feel comfortable during their weekly Thursday afternoon rehearsals.

"One of the things that we do every month is we have what is called 'goodie day,' which is usually the last Thursday of each month," Nelson said. "People bring in food so that after 5 o'clock, for the last 15 minutes of rehearsal, we mix and talk with each other. And I make it a point, probably three or four times during the semester, to meet somebody you haven't met yet."

NICO was started five years ago by some residents of SaddleBrooke who were looking for ways to encourage students to participate in activities outside of the classroom, specifically in an orchestra setting, Nelson said. Through his connection as the husband of Coronado K-8's principal, the group asked Nelson if he could help form an orchestra that would rehearse and perform at Coronado K-8 School, all in an intergenerational setting.

"When students are sitting next to someone who is retired, they are getting the benefit of maybe 50 years of experience," Nelson said. "And the person who is retired really looks forward to working with that student, passing on some of that information that they have accumulated over a lifetime. The students really like that."

During this weekend's concert, the orchestra is playing selections from Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet," Beethoven's "Egmont Overture," Brahms' "Symphony No. 1," Wagner's "March of the Meistersingers," Sibelius' "Finlandia," Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite."

Anybody who is interested in playing in the orchestra is welcome. Rehearsals are once a week, from 3:35 to 5:15 p.m. each Thursday. People can contact Nelson at 206-6826 or leave him a message at Coronado K-8 School, 696-6610.

"I think one of the advantages with our retirement communities being so close to the school is it allows them an opportunity to continue to play an instrument without having to drive down to central Tucson for a night rehearsal in which they may not even get back home until 10 or 11 at night," Nelson said.

Northwest Intergenerational Community Orchestra

Spring Concert

Sunday, April 25

3 p.m.

Coronado K-8 gymnasium


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