The Sammamish Symphony gave its first performance of the year at the Holiday Pops concert at on Saturday. The symphony is joined this year by the choruses of Rachel Carson Elementary, including students in grades three to six, directed by Kimberly McElreath.
Conductor R. Joseph Scott is in his 13th year with the Sammamish Symphony, having first founded the Bellevue Philharmonic in 1964. Symphony President Miranda Thorpe says Scott has been the pivotal force behind growing the 80-plus member group, which includes musicians from all around the Eastside, ranging from high school students to retirees. Dennis Helppie, of Sammamish, is the first chair violinist.
"We are fortunate to have his expertise, which has brought us from this little group who used to play at Providence" to a full symphony orchestra, said Thorpe, a Redmond resident.
The orchestra is always open to new members, Thorpe said, and the best time to join is right after a concert has finished.
"We're always looking for pianists and percussionists," she said. Prospective symphony members don't have to be experts, but some level of proficiency is certainly helpful, as Scott strives for excellence for local musicians.
"We try to keep it fun, but he has high expectations, and he constantly raises the bar," Thorpe saaid.
The Sammamish Symphony is supported largely by grants and donations, and it holds an auction—its biggest fundraiser—in May.
If you have a chance today, the Sammamish Symphony will repeat its Holiday Pops performance at 2 p.m. at Eastlake High School. In the meantime, we bring you some video and photos from last night's concert.