Thanks to a generous funding from The Oregon Cultural Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation and The Country Dance & Song Society, musicians from Port Orford, Bandon, Coquille, Coos Bay, and Myrtle Point have been working hard to prepare for a weekend of contra dancing and a benefit concert in June. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the talented South Coast Dance Orchestra in action!
Read the press release below for more information.
New Dance Orchestra features Bandon Musicians
May 2, 2017
There’s a brand new cultural institution in the works that will excite local music and dance fans. Bringing together 26 musicians from Coos and Curry Counties, The South Coast Dance Orchestra will debut in mid-June with two performances in Coos Bay, playing for a Contra Dance on Saturday evening, June 10, followed by a benefit performance at the Egyptian Theatre on Sunday, June 11.
The new Orchestra is the brainchild of The South Coast Folk Society, whose mission includes promoting Contra Dancing, a popular form of folk dancing, and its expansive repertoire of jigs, reels, old time music and waltzes from around the globe. “Too often, we’ve had to import musicians from far away places for local dances; we have so many talented local musicians that we felt it was time for our own home grown dance orchestra,” said Jennifer Sordyl, project organizer and board member of The South Coast Folk Society.
With initial funding from The Oregon Cultural Trust, The Oregon Community Foundation and The Country Dance & Song Society, the Orchestra began intensive rehearsals early this year under the direction of Sue Songer and Betsy Branch, founders of the acclaimed Portland Megaband, a large dance band whose annual performances are wildly popular events in the Portland area.
The new Orchestra includes fiddles, a viola, a cello, mandolins, flutes, a penny whistle, an oboe, a concertina, an accordion, guitars, an Irish bouzouki, a bass, a piano, and an Irish bodhran (drum). Six Bandon musicians — Gerry Canning, Penny McLeod, Deb Holmes, Alayne Olmsted, Cynthia Stone and Dawn Vonderlin – are participating. “The sound is just amazing, “offered Penny McLeod. “It’s been a privilege to be a part of this great musical adventure.” “The instruction has been excellent and we’ve all become better players through this experience;” added Gerry Canning; “we hope our friends and neighbors will come out to support us in June.”
On Saturday, June 10, the Contra Dance —The Barn Dance and Quilt Show — will be held at 7 pm at the Millicoma Intermediate School Gym, located at 260 2nd Ave., Coos Bay. Renowned caller, Woody Lane, will teach the steps to all the dances. Beginners and first-timers are welcome, as are those who just want to listen to the music and admire the artistry of local quilters, whose beautiful quilts will adorn the walls. Admission to the Dance is $10, $5 for students (7-18 years of age), and free for supervised children under six.
The Gala Concert — Music and Dance Send Kids to Camp — will be held on Saturday, June 11th, at 2pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Coos Bay. Orchestra mentors, Betsy Branch and Sue Songer, will conduct the foot-tapping, lively music offerings. The program will also feature The Morris Dance Troupe, and other surprises. Admission is $5 and free for children six and under.
Tickets to both the dance and concert can be purchased in advance at www.eventbrite.com (search for South Coast Folk Society events in Coos Bay), or at the door.
All proceeds from the concert will go to nonprofits Camp Millennium and The South Coast Folk Society. Camp Millennium is a summer camp for children living with cancer that helps kids from all parts of Oregon, including Coos and Curry Counties. Campers participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities, as well as arts and crafts programs. There is no cost to a child’s family for camp attendance and donations are critical to maintain this unique resource. The South Coast Folk Society will devote its portion of funds raised to support future Orchestra events.
Meet the Bandon musicians in the South Coast Dance Orchestra:
Front row from left: Deb Holmes, Alayne Olmsted, Dawn Vonderlin; back row: Penny McLeod, Cynthia Stone, Gerry Canning.