What? There's a Symphony in Central Oregon?

I have been the music director of the Central Oregon Symphony and a professor of music at Central Oregon Community College for fourteen years now, and have witnessed a tremendous upsurge of community support for our local symphony. While I am eternally grateful for every single patron that has attended a concert and contributed to making our performances possible, I know that our job is not done until the opening question is a rarity rather than a routine. Not everyone may have the desire to attend a concert presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the New York Philharmonic, but I’ll bet that very few individuals are surprised that a symphony exists in Chicago or New York. So why is there a discrepancy? For me, it can be summarized by assumptions and expectations. Since large cities typically represent the cultural center of a region, citizens make assumptions: there is likely to be museums, art galleries, symphony concerts, et cetera. And they expect that the quality will be high. By contrast, the assumptions and expectations are quite the reverse when the population is smaller.

In Central Oregon, we find ourselves in a region with a relatively sizable population, but nothing compared to that of Portland or Seattle. It’s understandable that new-comers (and even long time residents) would have assumptions and expectations about the Central Oregon arts scene that are skeptical at best. But just like the natural beauty that surrounds and surprises us at every turn, there are artistic treasures, alive and well, waiting to be discovered all throughout the area. Individuals that I have talked with, or have written, often express their amazement with the arts-visual, theatrical, and musical-in our region. They will move here with assumptions and expectations that are frequently turned on their head. Here are excerpts from two notes that I recently received regarding the COS: “Among the many things I thought I was giving up by moving from Chicago to Central Oregon was the enjoyment of live symphony music. I had been a subscription holder at the Chicago Symphony from 1974 until I left in 2006 and I was expecting a big let-down. It never happened.”

“Monday’s performance was a joy to listen to. I’ve heard the LA Philharmonic Orchestra at Disney Hall, several visiting orchestras in San Diego and Santa Barbara, but I get more pleasure listening to our little orchestra here than I’ve ever gotten from the big boys.” What I take away from these messages is not a comparison of orchestra quality. Rather, I see it as an affirmation of the strength of our community and it’s support for the arts. Our musicians volunteer their time and talents; our audience is loyal and appreciative. Both have come to expect quality music making and assume that it will continue. Going forward it is our combined task to continue to spread the word about the COS, and Central Oregon arts in general, so the question will no longer be “there’s a symphony in Central Oregon?” but rather, “I assume you are going to the next symphony concert?”

Osher Lifelong Stimulates Learning at Any Age

Do you remember wanting to take that really interesting class on French Impressionist Painters but having no free time while working? Are you curious as to how carbon dating works? Does the history of the U.S. transcontinental railroads intrigue you? Retirement is an opportunity to do the things that an active working life didn’t leave time for, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of the University of Oregon in Central Oregon—OLLI-CO—provides an environment for stimulating, enriching, and educational programs. Classes from The History of European Art to Comparative Religion to Genetics give active adults the opportunity for continued learning and stimulating conversation. Without the burden of career preparation or emphasis on grades, you can join a community of peers who are interested in ongoing personal development.

The year-round curriculum provides members the opportunities to engage in discussions, enjoy lectures and contemplate important questions—and answers. There are no prerequisites, credit requirements, grades or tests—just learning for pure enjoyment. Program offerings include lectures, short courses, field trips, ongoing discussion and interest groups. Topics draw from the humanities, the social and physical sciences, and the arts, in addition to issues of community and regional interest. Lectures and presentations in the 2009-2010 year varied greatly in subject. COCC Professor Alan Eisenberg spoke and answered questions on US Middle East Policy since 9/11. Patrick O’Grady, Ph.D., staff archaeologist at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, shared stories from archaeological digs in eastern Oregon and the inhabitants from 13,000 years ago. Traci Clautice- Engle, MD, provided OLLI-CO members with a journey through the world of medical imaging.

Series lectures have included art Professor emeritus Roger Aiken presenting a history of American art; Scott Mason presented a series on understanding Tarot cards; and Jim Horton, Ph.D. and Jane Mitchell, RN presented an exceptional medical series that included presentations on balance, protecting the back, the urinary tract and others. DVD courses from The Teaching Company, facilitated by OLLI-CO members, supplement the program. Respected professors from major universities teach the courses—The Physics of History, American Identity, Masterpieces of the Louvre—and OLLI-CO member facilitators encourage discussion. According to Helen Pruitt, program committee chair and former COCC Registrar, “We have an advantage in Central Oregon in securing professors from the COCC and OSU-Cascades faculty as speakers as well as those visiting from UO. We also have the great Central Oregon outdoors to learn from—we have offered a number of field trips on geology, land use and conservation, fish ladders and more.”

Curriculum is developed from a diverse array of topics; members create their own programming towards a goal of expanding their views of the world and enriching their lives and their communities. The OLLI-CO program theme for 2010 - 2012 is ‘Origins and Innovations.’ This is obviously a theme broad in scope and encompassing a wide variety of fields of knowledge—perfect for diverse programs in art, science, history and more. Russ Hopper, current president of OLLI-CO and a former high school chemistry teacher notes, “The program is a great way to stimulate the mind both socially and academically. If you want to continue your learning through lectures, field trips, and small study and discussion groups, OLLI-CO may be the right program for you. It’s a great way to make connections, meet interesting people, and share your passions and interests.”

OLLI-CO Origins In 2003 UO Continuing Education and a committee of Central Oregon residents inaugurated the Silver Sage Society. In 2004 and 2005 UO Continuing Education applied for, and was awarded $100,000 Osher Foundation grants to strengthen and enhance the UO lifelong learning programs. The Bernard Osher Foundation supports lifelong learning programs at colleges and universities across the country. The UO programs have adopted the OLLI name in acknowledgement of the Osher Foundation support and their affiliation with the national network. “It is important to note that, while OLLI-CO has assistance from the University of Oregon, it is a member run organization,” said Hopper. “We rely on members’ willingness to pitch in and do what they can to help run the program. It really is by and for the members.”

The more than 115 members, aged 50+ come from all over Central Oregon including Bend, Redmond, Sisters and Sunriver. If you want to continue learning through lectures, field trips, and small study and discussion groups consider joining an OLLI-CO program. It’s a great way to make connections, meet interesting people, and share your passions. There are two membership options. The one-year membership is $120 for individuals and $200 per year for households. That’s a great bargain—only $10 per month—for exciting programs that keep our minds active. For those who travel, there is a membership for six contiguous months for only $65. If you’ve been searching for intellectual challenge and social interaction with intriguing, accomplished people contact the OLLI-UO office at 800-824-2714, or OLLI-CO program assistant, Wen Wick, at 541-617-4663 or http://osher.uoregon.edu

The Race to the Finish
2010 Pole, Pedal, Paddle

The U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle was held on Saturday, May 15 in Bend and was a huge success bringing in more participants than ever before. Teams, pairs, and individual participants are composed of recreational and expert athletes competing from Mt. Bachelor to Les Schwab Amphitheater.

The participants alpine ski, cross-country ski, bike, run, canoe/kayak and sprint to the finish. The Les Schwab Amphitheater area hosted a day-long festival of various foods, music, sponsor booths and all the cheering and spectating of the PPP participants.

Among the thousands of competitors, it was Marshall Greene and Stephanie Howe both of Bend who beat out the rest of the challengers in the individual men’s and women’s races. Greene, already mastering the Pole Pedal Paddle for the fifth year in a row, came in at one hour and 44 minutes, securing his fifth win in a row. “It was definitely exciting and something of a relief to win, truth be told,” Greene said.

After preparing long and hard for the Pole Pedal Paddle, Greene was not racing for any spot other than his already acclaimed first. He said after four years he knew he had a good chance at winning, but there was no way he was taking that for granted. Even though the actual training for Pole Pedal Paddle is quite rigorous, Greene was already ahead of the game thanks to his year-round training for cross-country skiing that he’s done nonstop since his freshman year of high school. Cross country skiing, his main sport, keeps him fit to train for the other biking and running legs of the race.

“I have been training year round for cross country ski racing professionally for six years now,” Greene said. “I race with the local elite club XC Oregon, a non-profit here in Bend, and have competed at the national and international level.” Greene was most definitely fit for the race, but it’s always the unexpected complications that keep the adrenaline pumping. Greene believes the best way to race is in fear, constantly staying on edge about someone catching him from behind; it keeps him racing hard.

“At the run/boat transition, I tipped my boat while trying to get into it. It started to fill with water and I had to quickly decide if I wanted to go back to shore and pour out the water or if there was little enough that I could race with a little extra weight,” Greene said. “I chose the latter and could definitely feel extra water sloshing around at times while trying to paddle.” Similarly to Greene, Howe, who came in at two hours and three seconds, was well trained for the events after her cross country skiing with XC Oregon.

Howe said she tried to do a few legs each day to make sure she was on her A-game for the event. “I didn’t really do anything special,” Howe said. “I just tried to make sure I was comfortable with all the gear I was using.” Howe, being a rookie to the solo Pole Pedal Paddle, was very excited after winning. She had previously done the running and skiing legs in the pairs race, but she has benefited even more from the solo. She felt very accomplished since she knew it was tough competition this year.

“I knew I had a good chance to podium, but I didn’t think I was going to win,” Howe said. “There was some tough competition. Sarah Max, Kristina Strandberg and I are all part of the XC Oregon team and I have trained and raced with these ladies quite a bit. I know what great athletes they are and how tough they would be to beat.”

Howe has a different approach than Greene’s adrenaline through fear in that she thinks the best way to keep moving during the race is to stay calm. She said she didn’t let small complications with gear or transitions affect her. “I think people get into trouble when they let minor issues get to them,” Howe said. “It usually results in bigger problems.”

Along with Greene, Howe had tipped her boat when trying to get in the water too fast, but both racers stayed composed and came out on top in the end. Both Greene and Howe worked hard during the race to stay focused and come out on top. The competition was tough, which shows how important the Pole Pedal Paddle is to the adventurous town of Bend. When asked if they ever get bored out on the different legs, both Howe and Greene were sure in saying that would never happen during the Pole Pedal Paddle. The best thing for both winners is that is it a self-gratifying race that they continue to find enjoyment from.

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