News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Music celebrates community

Music and community came together last Thursday evening as the Sisters High School (SHS) band department put on a show involving young musicians from a variety of local music programs.

"Music and art are inherently communal. We as people are best when we work together, and musicians are no different," said Kayla Golka, director of the band program at SHS.

The production included a plethora of different music communities, including the SHS Concert and Jazz Bands, the Sisters Middle School (SMS) 7/8th Band and 6th grade band, and the SMS Fiddle Club led by Melissa Stolaz.

The students performed songs, from "How to Train Your Dragon," to the "Mamma Mia" soundtrack, displaying their enthusiasm throughout.

There was even a collaboration between the SHS Jazz Band and the SMS Fiddle Club, performing a song called Böl-Olle by the Folk All in Band.

Another unique feature of this year's Band Pop Show was a heartwarming story that followed a remarkable young girl by the name of Autumn, who was diagnosed with optic pathway glioma as a very young child.

"The Sing-Me-A-Story foundation reached out to me and asked if our program would like to commission a story and accompanying music for the band," said Golka.

The Sing-Me-A-Story is a non-profit organization that aims to aid children in need through making their stories come to life with songs. Autumn was chosen to participate in this program and wrote "Autumn's Story," which followed her and her siblings as mer-kitties and mer-dogs as they befriended a giant shark. 

This story was interpreted into a song by Nathan Richardson, a composition student at Western Oregon University. The song was then curated for the players in the SHS Concert Band, and the group rehearsed it along with select incoming freshmen.

"'Autumn's Story' as a project illustrates the transformative influence of music and art, showcasing how they can ignite the imagination even amidst struggle and adversity. It also helps her to see there is a broader community of folks who are here to walk alongside her in her journey," said band program accompanist Julie Cash.

Sisters Middle School music teacher Steve Livingston narrated the story at the concert as the SHS Concert Band played

the piece, and Autumn's illustrations and writing were projected for the audience to see. 

The band members contributed in creating two thrones for Autumn and Nathan that they sat on during the performance.

"It was a moving performance, it was beautiful to be able to witness her face light up throughout the story," said an audience member after the show. "In spite of all the challenges and difficulties she's going through it seemed like she truly found joy in hearing her story spoken and played."


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