A new — sort of — community orchestra based at Montana State University-Northern is unveiling its work at its first general concert, set for Havre Tuesday night.
The MSU-Northern Community Orchestra, conducted by Havre Middle School music teacher Rhonda Minnick, will open its concert 7 p. m. at the Fifth Avenue Christian Church.
The concert is free, although empty instrument cases will be set up in which people can make free-will donations. The performance will include works of Beethoven, the Beatles, Duke Ellington, music from James Bond movies and from the West, and refreshments will be available.
The orchestra got its start working with Montana Actors’ Theatre, with local musicians playing in the pit orchestra for MAT’s 2008 production of “The Man from La Mancha. ”
The orchestra has grown since then, said Minnick, who conducted the orchestra for that play and ever since.
“When we had our first musical … we didn’t even have an official violin player, ” she said, adding that the violin parts were played on a keyboard.
The orchestra now has six violins, with about 30 people scheduled to play in Tuesday’s concert.
“The orchestra has always kind of evolved, ” Minnick said.
For example, she said, when the orchestra performed for MAT’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” an accordion was included — that is not played in every performance.
The orchestra got its start with, and has been closely allied to, MAT performances. It also performed at the joint MAT-Havre High School Drama Department productions of “Cinderella” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. ” It also will play at MAT’s next musical production, “Annie, ” scheduled for production in February.
But, Minnick said, the group of performers want to play outside of the local musicals.
“We are moving into trying to get our own identity outside of MAT, that we are an orchestra in our own right, ” she said.
The orchestra practices from 7 to 9 p. m. Tuesdays at Pershing Hall on the Northern campus. During the start of the winter semester, while preparing for “Annie, ” the orchestra will rehearse on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Performing with the orchestra can earn musicians college credit at Northern, and Minnick said several college and high school students are doing that now.
“We’re always looking for new people, ” Minnick said, adding that people could contact her at 265-5987 for more information.