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Saluting performers at Opera House

The production of Annie at the C.L. Hoover Opera House has another wonderful group of performers to salute. These folks are not on stage or behind the curtains. They will never see the show.

This group performs under the stage. They are the pit orchestra assembled under the direction of David Bernard-Stevens, a violinist and teacher for USD 475.

The 20-plus musicians grew up from coast to coast. From the 1st Infantry Division military band come Luis Alvarado on flute and piccolo from Rosemead, Calif.; Chris Cotten on trombone from Fort Collins, Colo., and Jason Ford from Asheville, N.C. Ford plays three instruments, changing quickly from clarinet to bass clarinet to tenor saxophone.

Three equally talented Army spouses are playing: Staci Tomaszewski on trap set from Fort Collins, Colo.; Alexis Jimenez on violin from Tucson, Ariz.; and Tiffany Grimes on clarinet and saxophone from Canby, Ore. Formerly active duty Marines, Grimes was a clarinetist in a Marine band.

Closer to home, Tom Miles drives from Abilene, and plays two instruments, the alto and the baritone saxophone. Deb Breidenstein comes from Milford to play the clarinet, while Lynette Nivens from Grandview Plaza plays the cello. Nine more musicians list Junction City as their hometown.

Without band and orchestra programs in our schools, shows like Annie could not be produced. Teachers and retired teachers are in abundance in a pit orchestra of this caliber.

They are David Carlson on trumpet, Victor Wong on tuba, Michael Brown on keyboard, and Carson Felt on string bass, along with Tom Miles and David Bernard-Stevens for a total of six. Matt Barnes plays the trumpet next to his teacher of 20 years ago, Carlson.

Current students Brent Seals (Dist. 475) on tuba and Keon Jackson (St. Xavier) on trombone started as substitutes but play when needed.

Mark Ediger, local radio broadcaster, records announcements for the theatre and slides into the orchestra to play the trombone.

I am proud to be among this professional, talented, dedicated group. This is a group who has invested money in their instruments, their college degrees, and their careers. Even I, who consider myself a hobbyist, maintain my own horn and have a music minor.

Please give all the musicians your applause at Annie and the three other musical titles the Junction City Little Theatre will present in 2013-14.

Virleen Carlson
September 12, 2013

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