Gorge musicians unite for jammin’ swing concert with Sinfonietta

On May 3 and 5, some of the Gorge’s most popular musicians are soon to be featured with the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta.

“The Off Beat Swing Band” is made up of Ben Bonham, Rick Hulett, Victor Johnson, Char Mayer, Ron Ontiveros, Dennis Williams, Larry Wyatt, Tim Ortieb, and Kerry Williams — all of whom have been delighting local audiences for years.

Sinfonietta conductor and musical director Mark Steighner had the idea of bringing all these great musicians together and writing some backing arrangements for the orchestra. Ben Bonham then “cajoled and corralled” the musicians into rehearsals.

The group and orchestra will perform such standards as “Daphne,” “All Of Me,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and “After You’ve Gone.”

Also on the program is the world premiere of a new concerto for trombone, written by Steighner for soloist and orchestra member Hugh Amick. The concerto is in four movements, each of which was loosely inspired by the subject line of spam email, according to Steighner.

For example, the first movement is “You May Already Be a Winner,” and musically, it reflects a disingenuous optimism characterized by themes that sound a little like those written by Leroy Anderson (“Trumpeter’s Lullaby,” “Syncopated Clock,” etc). The listener can comb through his or her spam box to find titles that match the remaining three movements.

Kicking off the concert will be Aaron Copland’s “Outdoor Overture,” and the evening will also include a performance by the Gorge Ukestra and music by American composer John Mackey.

The concerts are at the Wy’east Middle School auditorium, and begin at 7:30 p.m. (May 3) and 2 p.m. (May 5). There is a suggested donation of $10.

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