"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 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.
|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!
|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!