Youth orchestra event organized by Shoreline resident Beth Fortune-Gobo nominated for Bluegrass Music Association ‘Event of the Year’ award

Friday, September 23, 2011

Washington Middle School Senior Orchestra members participate in the First Annual Wintergrass Youth Orchestra Gala held in February at Bellevue. The event has been nominated for an 'Event of the Year' award by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Photo by Eric Frommer.

By Robert Teodosio, Seattle Public Schools, formerly of Shoreline Public Schools
Republished from Seattle Public Schools website

A youth orchestra event held earlier this year – organized by Shoreline resident Beth Fortune-Gobo, Director of Orchestras at Washington Middle School – has been nominated for an “Event of the Year” award by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). 

Fortune-Gobo will attend the Grammy-style music awards to be held September 29 at Tennessee’s historic Ryman Auditorium.

Fortune-Gobo, a pioneer in infusing the school orchestra program with Americana and Roots music, will be recognized for her work on the First Annual Wintergrass Youth Orchestra Gala held February 2011 in Bellevue.

Wintergrass event a learning project
“The unique aspect is that our event is not a festival ... it is a learning project, and it is the first time the IBMA has ever nominated something other than a festival,” Fortune-Gobo said. “So even if we don't win, it is a major honor to be a part of the final nominee list, and it brings worldwide attention to the music department at Washington Middle School and Seattle Public Schools.”

The 100-member orchestra, composed of members of Washington Middle School’s Senior Orchestra, Kenmore Junior High's Symphonic Orchestra and Bellevue's Youth Symphony, included about a dozen young freelance musicians from around Puget Sound.

The orchestra played arrangements of traditional tunes by renowned Alternative Styles clinician Renata Bratt, who also performed with the cellists.

Several Grammy-nominated performers also joined the students at the Wintergrass gala: Darol Anger, violinist, fiddler, composer, producer and educator; Michael Doucet, a Cajun fiddler, singer and songwriter; and Laurie Lewis, a fiddler, singer and songwriter. Bob Phillips, president-elect of the American String Teachers Association, conducted the orchestra.

Students perform with well-known musicians
"It was exciting when we worked with well-known artists," said Jacob Caspe, now a ninth-grader at Garfield High School. "It was amazing to perform up there on the stage with so many people, and have complete strangers clap for us – not just our parents!"
The orchestra rehearsed the seven tunes in the set throughout the winter, and perfected them in a lengthy, single rehearsal the day before the show. At Wintergrass, the baton was handed to Bob Phillips, who flew out from Michigan to oversee this pivotal moment in music education.

Next year’s Wintergrass Youth Orchestra event, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, already has a major lineup of amazing guest artists, including old-time fiddle master Bruce Molsky, along with Darol Anger and cellist Rushad Eggleston; the premier acoustic Swedish music group Vasen; the Americana band The Wilders; and 2010 IBMA Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch. It will all once again be conducted by Bob Phillips, and the Washington Middle School Senior Orchestra will participate.

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