Residents make beautiful music together

Residents make beautiful music together
Dr. Joe Montelione conducts the first performance of the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville May 22 at St. John’s Cathedral.

When seeking volunteer musicians to fill the chairs of their newly formed civic orchestra, Avondale neighbors Jennie Rambo and Nadine Terk “sounded the trumpets” on social media and the response was overwhelming.

“Thirty people responded the very first day and everyone was so enthusiastic,” Terk said. “Many are current or retired music teachers, professionals or members of other performing groups. There are many talented artists in our community; our members are very diverse.”

Terk and Rambo, both violinists, played chamber music regularly and dreamed of forming a new orchestra. Inspired by a week-long “play-along” hosted by the Jacksonville Symphony, Terk said they seized the momentum and sent out the call for musicians.

Molly Sweet, a clarinetist, also of Avondale, played in the Douglas Anderson Youth Symphony and the orchestra at Florida State, and was excited to join the Civic Orchestra of Jacksonville. “I couldn’t find anything except small groups,” said Sweet, who is in her late 20s. “I am really excited to be part of something of this scale.”

Rambo also hosted a meet and greet of the musicians, which now numbers 40, so everyone could get to know each other, share their stories and musical backgrounds. Anne Nasrallah of Ortega Forest joined the group and has enjoyed getting to know musicians from so many walks of life. 

Charlie Fillipucci-Arnett, transplant coordinator at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, shared his story. “While in college my French horn was stolen and I couldn’t afford another one. But, the desire to play never went away,” he said. “So I scrounged up the money to buy another horn and now I’m part of this orchestra.”

Of course, an orchestra needs a conductor so Terk and Rambo turned for advice to Dr. Joe Montelione, director of Instrumental Music at Episcopal School. Before you could say pizzicato he volunteered to conduct the newly formed orchestra.

“I thought I was just a consultant. We met for coffee several times. I was interested,” said Montelione. “The chance to work with musicians who had not had opportunities to follow their passion really got me excited. When Jennie and Nadine talked about their vision I knew this would be a good thing, and who doesn’t want to be part of something good?”

“We rehearse once a week and it is great to have a goal, like a performance,” said Terk. “It’s wonderful to share music with a live audience. What makes our orchestra unique is collaborative planning. We will be working with choreographers, dancers, visual artists, singers – anyone who can help us achieve our vision of cultivating classical music.”

Rambo, who plays on her great grandfather’s violin, cherishes the opportunity to continue a legacy of music within her family and being on the “musical adventure” with the newly founded orchestra.

The orchestra held an exhibition concert St. John’s Cathedral May 22, sponsored by Grassroots Natural Market, and a champagne reception with food and libations by Grater Goods, Biscottis, and Bernie’s Wine Stop. The organization is accepting donations to raise $10,000 in a Double Your Dollars matching fund campaign from their corporate sponsor, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. 

Orchestra treasurer Peggy Holt said the orchestra is dedicated to “enriching the community” and will begin its official season in September with “An American in Paris.” For information, email or call (904) 513-1673.

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

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