Fall 2022 School Music News

Beautiful Fall weather on Orcas Island saw the high school (HS) band rehearsing outdoors for their marching debut. On October 7, the band led the Homecoming parade, marching from the public school to the Village Green, where it entertained the public at the Homecoming Bonfire and Chili Bake.

Most Orcas Island HS string and band musicians juggle 7:15am music practice, a full class schedule and after-school sports practice daily. To the parents and guardians who transport them, we applaud you!


As music festivals and in-person conferences resume, students have a full calendar of honor festivals and contests to audition for and participate in. Large events like the Honor Festival at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and the American String Teachers Association contest at Western Washington University are opportunities for Orcas students to learn with peers under the batons of respected instructors from across the region.  

In March, fifth graders will visit and play with the Seattle Symphony, a beloved excursion that was put on hold for the last two years.

These trips inspire and boost confidence as well as make connections. A conversation at PLU, early this year, led to the band acquiring a vibraphone (for the cost of shipping) that an Orcas student refurbished.  The entry fees and travel costs of many of these excursions are funded by grants from MAG’s Joyce Burghardt Excellence In Music fund. These grants are in addition to an annual contribution from MAG for the public school’s general music needs.


Orcas students are fortunate to have a supportive music community. Elementary students have enjoyed a series of lunchtime performances by local musicians, made possible by an anonymous donor via MAG. 

This year, HS students will enjoy a monthly ‘Jazz Day’ with Oliver Groenewald, a music instructor and Orcas resident. He will work directly with HS students and sponsor enrollment at an online jazz instruction platform. Oliver has arranged a piece for the high school band’s specific instrumentation.  

In October, the Orcas Youth Chorus kicked off after a two-and-a-half year hiatus. Co-directors Andy Rivera and Monica Steele are leading a group of 15 sixth to twelfth graders in this fun foray into choral singing, meeting every Sunday afternoon at the public school.  This activity is co-sponsored by MAG, the Orcas Choral Society, and the Orcas Island Park and Recreation District.

MAG looks forward to hosting the 2023 Spring Concert for School Music, in-person for the first time since 2020. Please save Sunday, March 5, 2023, for a celebration of what the school music program has accomplished. More details will follow soon.

Save these dates for a wonderful line-up of school music concerts! Join us ‘live’ or watch the ‘livestream’ on Facebook ‘Music Advocacy Group of Orcas Island’. (Updated Nov 1, 2022)

“Congratulations to String Director and Elementary Music teacher Pamela Wright, Band Director Darren Dix, and all the student musicians at Orcas Island School District for a great start to a promising year of music learning.  Friends, your support of the school music program is what makes all this possible, and we are ever grateful.”
– Music Advocacy Group

Stay tuned to School Music:
Website: OIMAG.org
YouTube: Orcas Island Music Advocacy Group
Facebook: Music Advocacy Group of Orcas Island