Then and Now

1980 to 2015

1980 Nathan Hale Night School Community Orchestra. Frank Lynch, Principal of Nathan Hale, initiated in the night school program. Students paid tuition and material fee to pay for conductor/teacher and music. The orchestra’s goal was to have fun and enjoy learning classical music symphonies. Currie Morrison, director
1981-1982 Brian Higham director.
1983 Jo-Ann Christen, director. JoAnn built orchestra membership, eventually reaching 40 members.
1988 Performed at ‘Seattle Center’ in The Center House .
1989-1990 Performed at Rainier Brewery, “Mountain Room,” beer on tap. RCS held fundraisers at the Mountain Room located in the Rainer Brewery. RCS members sold tickets to friends/family for a nominal charge ($7/ticket) for a concert, dinner (orchestra provided) and all the beer you can drink.
1998 Moved to Wedgwood Community Church, arranged by Roy Sillence .
1998 Orchestra named “Rain City Symphony.”
2000 May, 24th. Benaroya Hall. Winnie Dungey, soloist. Jo-Ann Christen, conductor. Performed “The Great Symphony, No. 9, Franz Schubert, “Violin Concerto in D. Minor”, Jean Sibelius. Played in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall; The Orchestra had to earn the money to pay for the use of the hall, and the seats were sold out.
2003 Dr. Teresa Howe, director.
2007-2008 Sectional coaches were added to help musicians learning new scores, and music for strings included bowing markings!
2010 Performed Roy Sillence’s original composition, “A Sonata for Woodwinds”.
2011 Official first Benefit for UCEF. Our orchestra had raised money for UCEF at prior performances, but this was the first at UCC. $1200 was raised for UCEF.
2012 Performance with Rain City Women’s Chorus, Jo Ann Christen, conductor
2014 Jo-Ann Christen. Returns as Guest Artist Playing “Concerto for Trombone and Military Band”

Personal Histories.
1981 Bruce Finlayson joined, playing tympani, but dropped out to learn to play cello.
1982 Gennie Winkler joined, playing violin . She suggested Jo-Ann Christen as a director. Jo-Ann was new to Seattle and had substituted at another orchestra that Gennie played in. Jo-Ann built the orchestra to 40 members.
1983 Jo-Ann Christen, joined, director. We played a fund raiser for the Multiple Sclerosis organization at Phinney Ridge Lutheran, where we also had photos taken, and we always had fun at rehearsals and concerts..
There was one rehearsal night at Nathan Hale where the Band director refused to allow us to use the Band room to practice because he was having a concert that night and the students would be going in and out. Of course he neglected to give us notice, all the members were standing in the hall, instruments in hand, wondering what to do. I persisted to insist we would rehearse in the Band room, so we did in the end rehearse that night. Victor Meyer, our beloved Viola player who ran from the Germans in the nick of time, told me very calmly that there were only a few things in life to get really upset over, and encouraged me to calm down. I listened to him and always did, because he was so calm himself and had overcome much bigger obstacles than losing a rehearsal space for one night. He was my beloved friend and he loved playing in the orchestra. Our principal clarinet almost gave birth to her second child at orchestra rehearsal. It was close.
1983 Bruce Finlayson rejoined, playing cello. (34 years later, Bruce is still playing cello).At Nathan Hall Bruce remembers sitting next to a viola player who had been in the concentration camp in Germany during the war, and who has since passed away. Bruce remembers playing Benaroya hall; before the concert started, he was on stage and wanted to move his chair slightly. He started to do so, and a stage-hand (union member) came over and told Him he couldn’t do that, and he moved it for me (about six inches!).
1983 Aki attended 2 quarters at Nathan Hale Night School, then moved out of the area. When she returned, she played off and on with RCS while attending night school at Seattle University. At Wedgwood, Aki sat next to Dwayne, an exceptional violinist. He could play anything you put in front of him with ease. He was in the early stages of dementia and his wife drove him to rehearsal every week. Sometimes during rehearsal and even at concerts, he would yell out….where are we? Aki would point to the music and he continued playing as if nothing happened – brilliant musician, who has since passed away.
1983 Kathie Lillie joined, playing flute. At Nathan Hale, Kathie set next to Pierre, who had also been in a concentration camp in Germany during the war. Kathie remembers accompanying Fred Easton playing a cello solo, on piano. Kathie was on the stage; blinded by the lights , and couldn't see or hear Fred because he was way out in front of the orchestra; nor could she see JoAnn! Afterwards, they brought potluck and enjoyed dinner with the audience, and hopefully, a glass of wine.

Jim Parfitt, Tuba and Bass
I went to a Catholic school that had no music program except for the choir, that I sang in. When I got to high school, I had no idea how people got into the orchestra, etc... so I was never in it. It being the 70's, I got a guitar and started playing folk music form the little chord symbols on the song books. Later I picked up the electric bass, playing by chords and ear. But I always had a secret love for classical music; it was almost all I ever listened to. But I had no idea how people got in that musical world; it was just inaccessible to me, it seemed.
At some point I decided that I wanted to get some sort of wind instrument, so I could play outside in the rain without electricity, etc.
So I basically went on ebay and began buying every wind instrument from trumpet and flute downwards, trying to see what suited me; trombones, french horns, marching horns, xylophone, alto flute, saxophones, clarinets, etc... Eventually, I got down to the Bb tuba, and I liked that. I found a fingering chart online and began working on it. I lived in Port Townsend then, and somebody told me that the local community orchestra needed a tuba player, so I just took my tuba to rehearsal and sat there, not having a clue what was going on, how to play the tuba, what the conductor was doing, nothing. And never having read a note of music. I was now about 53. The conductor, Dewey, put up with me, and occasionally would say things like: "There was a little tuba line that just went by there, try to play it one of these times." And I'd sit up and try to see what he was talking about. So, eventually I started playing some of the parts, and when I moved to Seattle, I just continued on from there...lying that I was a 'tuba player'.
I absolutely love our orchestra, and I am a Huge believer in community orchestras. Because of RCS, I can now be a little cog in the musical machine playing the great classical pieces of music from the whole world!!
Isn't that amazing?! I love all kinds of music, but there is just nothing that compares to the pieces composed for a large orchestra; the stuff that we play. This is the cream of the musical history of humans on this planet. It is Really, really thrilling for me to be a part of this. If not for a community orchestra, I would have never gotten access to this incredibly rich musical world. And I would have missed out on so much...
It's like going from a color crayon box with 6 colors to one with a thousand colors. During pretty much every piece we learn, there are points in the listening to and learning and performing it, that I find myself in tears; the music is just SO gorgeous.
Community orchestras are really special, because people like me can join up and get into this world. We're not pros, most of us, but we put our hearts into it and try to make a beautiful sound, all of us together. And our Rain City Symphony is a truly wonderful community orchestra



We are grateful for funding from King County 4 Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and matching funding by Microsoft and Boeing.