Lake Norman & Mooresville

Orchestras aim to further musical education

As summer winds down for children in the area, the Cornelius Youth Orchestras begin to tune up.

Auditions for placement in the nonprofit youth orchestras will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Cornelius Town Hall, but are not a pre-requisite for enrollment.

Conductor Bill Haraden has big plans for the orchestras this year and hopes to take a classical spin on pop hits by Lady Gaga and from movies such as "Gladiator," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Lord of the Rings" and "Madagascar."

"We want to make the community aware of (the orchestras) and change the way our youth look at music," said Haraden.

Haraden and his wife, Nanette, created the Cornelius Youth Orchestras five years ago after noticing a trend of decreasing musical education programs in North Carolina.

"Music programs are very scattered in this state," said Nanette Haraden, the program director. "We are trying to bridge the gap in musical education."

Unlike other extracurricular activities, the Haraden's said music is a skill children can continue for the rest of their lives.

The Cornelius Youth Orchestras are comprised of the Cadet Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra. And, for the first time, the organization will also include a jazz ensemble.

The Youth Orchestra is designed for musicians with three or more years of instruction, while the Cadet Orchestra is for those with one to three years of experience.

There are about four to seven instructors for the orchestra this year that will help teach the estimated 40 to 50 members. The average age of the orchestra is 13. One goal of the orchestras is to challenge children with more difficult, advanced pieces, said Nanette Haraden.

"By the time they've had their second lesson, they are running home with their instrument to practice," she said.

Haraden said it is his hope to grow the orchestra to 130 members because the larger the orchestra, the better the sound. Other goals he has for the orchestras include public performances, working with the Lake Norman Big Band and performing with a choir.

"I have a tendency to be really, really ambitious, but it takes a great staff to actually do it," said Haraden.

The Youth Orchestra practices 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Fees are $200 per child.

The Jazz Orchestra practices 6-6:45 p.m. Tuesdays.

The Cadet Orchestra practices 6:30-7:45 p.m. Tuesdays and a fall session costs $180 per child. Separate classes are scheduled at the same time.

Practice is at Bailey Middle School.

The orchestras will never turn a child away from the program because of cost concerns and there are discounts and scholarships available. Nanette Haraden said the organization is currently seeking sponsors for children.