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Sunrise, sunset - in harmony

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Young musicians learn from the pros in Front Range Christian orchestra

By Ramsey Scott

When people from different generations discuss music, discord is often the result. It’s a rare teenager that enjoys Lawrence Welk’s version of “Moon River,” and no one bought her grandmother a Jay-Z album for Easter. 

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But an orchestra that has come together for Front Range Christian School’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” includes ninth-graders and 50-year-olds, and they are making beautiful music together.

“It’s the camaraderie. It’s fun to play with the kids,” said Maurine Maltrud, a violinist in the multigenerational ensemble. “It’s different than playing with all adults, but it’s great.”

Maltrud and her trumpet-playing husband, Steve, have been playing with Front Range students for five years. The orchestra attracts kids and adults who have no connection to the school but keep coming back year after year to play together.

The couple find it rewarding to watch their junior band mates mature as musicians during the run-up to the spring performance. 

“It’s a good chance to mentor them,” Steve Maltrud said. “I just love seeing the kids rise to the occasion. We play in another orchestra with professional musicians, and it isn’t this much fun.”

Violinist Renee Watson, 14, respects her musical elders.

“It’s really cool. I haven’t played with a lot of people older and with more experience,” Watson said. “It’s helped me a lot. I can look at them for help and imitate them in how they’re playing.”

Conductor Lee Martin said playing with more experienced musicians provides a big benefit for students in the orchestra.

“You can tell a kid to try something like this or that,” Martin said, “but when they get next to someone with experience, the light just goes on.”

The orchestra, which includes students from Carmody Middle School, Chatfield High and even some community colleges, attracts musicians by reputation and word of mouth. 

Many of the younger performers are the top musicians at their schools, Martin said. But in the Front Range Christian orchestra, the students learn from musicians who’ve been playing since before they were born. 

“It’s a little intimidating at first,” said violinist Sarah Martin, 18. “It goes away, though, once you get comfortable with the music.”

Yet that doesn’t mean the young people take a back seat, Martin said. The older musicians not only encourage their younger counterparts, they take every opportunity to push them into the spotlight, including solos. 

“You can’t ask for people to be any better than that,” Martin said. “They’re letting the younger people have that experience.”

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.