Local musicians hope to form community chamber orchestra

Helen Rodriguez

Hoping to pull the right strings — or rather “pull in” the right strings — several local musicians are trying to organize a Clovis chamber orchestra.
Area violin, viola, cello and bass players interested in being a part of the community sound are encouraged to attend an organizational meeting from 7-9 p.m. on Monday at the Bethel Assembly of God Church, 1521 Norris Street.
Lemuel Perry, a violinist and church pastor, is an organizer for the group. He said chamber means a small orchestra and he will be delighted if they can attract at least 20 members. According to Perry, the chamber will have a dual purpose.
“The chamber orchestra will fill a void for those of us who want to hear classical music and those of us who want to play it,” Perry said.
Perry said there are no area chamber orchestras. He said Eastern New Mexico University had a now defunct chamber group a few years ago and there has not been any form of community orchestras in years.
The group is looking for high school and adult musicians with an orchestral music background and with their own instruments. He noted that wind and percussion instrumentalists in the area are easy to find, but said string players are harder to locate.
At the first meeting on Monday night, Perry hopes the orchestra will begin rehearsing, discuss music and perhaps set a date for a first concert.
“I envision us having up to four concerts a year, two in the fall and two in the spring,” Perry said. “We hope to rehearse every week, except during holidays and during the summer.”
Perry took it a step further, saying he envisions the chamber partnering with a church and doing a production such as George Frideric Handel’s, “Messiah.”
The group has not decided on a name. It will often play for free but will accept donations.
ENMU has graciously opened up their music library to the group, Perry said. He hopes the group will perform classic music by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Bernhard Heiden and Arcangelo Corelli.
Eilee McNotten, a violin teacher in Portales, said the Clovis chamber orchestra will most likely be the closest such group within about a 100-mile radius and said the group will add to the quality of life in the community.
“I think it is wonderful we’re starting this community orchestra because there are a lot of talented people who live in this area. Now they have somewhere to go and express themselves,” McNotten said.
“People, including children, will have opportunities to hear live performances. It doesn’t matter how many CDs you own. There’s nothing like a live performance,” she said.