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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra Centennial Celebration

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world." 
~ Albert Einstein ~

This evening, My Man and I are going to get a lil' bit of culture. We are going to the Symphony! The opportunity isn't going to present itself ever again here in Harney County...and because this story is just so interesting, we had to be part of the celebration.

Written below is the article that was published in my Horsefly publication in October. I find it a fascinating story of what one woman can do to make history. Oregon Public Broadcasting did an excellent 30 minute show and you can see it online. There are other photos and interesting facts about the story all at this link.


1916 Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra
1916 photo of the Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra. Mary Dodge is seated on the right. Photo: courtesy of the Western History Reading Room, Harney County Library.

The Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra~Centennial Celebration
by Debby Peckham (as published in the Horsefly, October 2010)


In 1910, Mary Dodge arrived in Burns, Oregon with her husband, Mott, who was an engineer working on the Silvies Valley dam project. Mary was vivacious, extremely talented and a true visionary. She was a professional violinist from the Boston Conservatory of Music.


Her love of music and children soon combined into teaching the young children of the Burns community how to play violin. Before long, the Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra was formed. This group of talented musicians soon became well known throughout Oregon.


1916 Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra
Circa 1916 Sagebrush Symphony  Orchestra. Photo: courtesy of the Western History Reading Room, Harney County Library.



They performed in Eastern Oregon for the Chautauqua programs that were so popular in that time. They went to the Oregon State Fair and won first prize and $100 for their performance. The orchestra was also invited to Portland and played to standing room only crowds. Amazing, coming from the remote Eastern Oregon county!




1916 Sagebrush Float
The violin float that was used for many years in the annual  Harney County Parade. 1916 Photo: courtesy of the Western History Reading Room, Harney County Library.



World War I caused the orchestra to disband, and Mary moved back to Portland. Several of her local students went with her to continue their studies. She formed a new orchestra in Portland, the Portland Junior Symphony. This wonderful group became the Portland Youth Philharmonic.


The Portland Youth Philharmonic is truly one of the finest youth orchestras in the world. They have performed all over the world, China, England etc. and also for a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This year, instead of touring, and in addition to their rigorous performance schedule, they are returning to their roots in Harney County to pay respect to one of the truly unsung heroines of Oregon, Mary Dodge.


The Harney County Arts in Education Foundation is hosting the centennial. They reconstructed the historical violin float for the Fair Parade. They also have a pictorial retrospective that will be on display throughout the community, information is being gathered for a new book - "Celebrating 100 Years of Music in Harney County, 1910 - 2010" and of course the Portland Youth Philharmonic in Concert, October 30, 2010.


The Foundation has planned to give the PYP musicians a true "Harney County Welcome," with a Sagebrush Barbeque, Old Time Fiddlers and the Johnson Brothers concert on Friday evening at the Catholic Parish Hall. Saturday the PYP will trek to the fair grounds for an old fashioned rendezvous with the Black Powder Club, Paiute Nation Dancers, bull and bronc riding demonstration and a lunch prepared by the Basque Community.


The Mary Dodge story was chronicled last fall on OPB Oregon Experience. This has been such an amazing journey for us -- a year in the planning.


The proceeds from the concert will stay here in Harney County to support our foundation which is dedicated to restoring Music, Art and Drama at Crane and Burns Schools. The Foundation believes that every child has the right to the magnificent benefits of a music education! It is their goal to see the four teaching positions that have been cut, restored. And future plans are proposing a regional Performing Arts Center in Harney County.


The Portland Youth Philharmonic concert will be at Burns High School Gym, 7:00 pm with a reception to follow in the cafeteria. Tickets are on sale at Gourmet & Gadgets, Roundbarn Visitors Center, and the Harney County Chamber of Commerce. Concert and ticket info 541-573-2427 or 541-493-2070

So, I better get a couple of shirts ironed...My Man and I've got a date!


12 comments:

Sydney_bitless said...

That sounds like fun! I hope you both enjoy yourself and get to see a little piece of history.

Cheyenne said...

I enjoyed the history references, but also, enjoy yourselves! Happy Halloween!

Rain said...

That is such a great story. Sounds like a wonderful evening and gift to the community to celebrate her that way.

CCC said...

Loved that story. My grandpa played the violin and one of his students went on to play in the Philidelphia Philharmonic. He was like Mary Dodge and brought his love of music to the small community where he lived as the Legion Band Leader, church choir conductor (for 40 years), Operetta organizer, teacher, and his small band played for local dances. I'm sure that will be a fun worthwhile night.

Linda said...

Have a great time....try not to get too cultured on us though.

Dreaming said...

OMG - the pictures are priceless!
Look at the kid's face in the 2nd photo, center row, just to the Mary(?)'s right! Now, he looks really happy to be there!
Hooray for the Arts in our schools. I used to share an office with the Arts coordinator for our school district, so became a true advocate.
Enjoy the symphony.

Cowgirl Rae said...

Have a great time, what a fun and historic opportunity.

Rising Rainbow said...

What an amazing story. I think music is important.

Maia said...

What a great story! I loved all of the historical pictures. I hope you had a great time.

gtyyup said...

We had a great time...an awesome evening with amazing musicians!

@Dreaming...The lady in white isn't Mary, she's dressed like the kids and has the impish lil' face a lil' more to the right. But, in that same photo...look at the gal seated in the chair on the left in the front...she's holding a rifle...that part I don't get...or my eyes are really bad!!

Shirley said...

Those are wonderful old photos and a great story. The rifle is interesting too- guess that would be to keep the kids in line! Glad you had a good time and had the opportunity to do something a little bit different.

gowestferalwoman said...

rifle is most likely to keep the band in tempo lol, "alrighty, who messed up the intro?"

What a wonderful story, and real - much better then "the music man" musical could ever be!

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