After 67 years, the Grande Ronde Symphony is striking a new chord. According to the Grande Ronde Symphony Association’s new President, Patty Sandoz, “We are excited to move forward with maintaining the heritage of the organization of providing high quality musical experiences for the people of northeastern Oregon, while changing in small ways the structure of this iconic organization. Our most exciting news is the hiring of a new Music Director who will assist the Grande Ronde Symphony Association Board of Directors and musicians in revitalizing the mission of the group.”
The new music director is Zeke Fetrow from Portland, Oregon, and he will begin his weekly treks to lead the symphony on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, as the conductor and music director of the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as the assistant conductor for the Oregon Music Festival. A recent guest conductor of the Oregon Mozart Players, his work has been lauded by the Register-Guard, University of Oregon and Concordia University. While studying at Oregon, Zeke worked with Eugene Opera, Oregon Mozart Players, Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Composers Forum, Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Camerata, University of Oregon Symphony Orchestra, University of Oregon Opera Ensemble, UO Campus Orchestra, UO Repertoire Singers, UO University Singers, University of Oregon Chamber Choir, Central Presbyterian and Ebbert Memorial United Methodist. Over the last 7 years as a musician, Fetrow has toured Germany, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Canada, Alaska and the Western United States for concerts and competitions. As a recipient of Concordia University’s Cum Jubilo Award, and a distinguished alumnus of the University of Oregon, Fetrow’s lasting impact on classical music in the Northwest continues to grow.
Fetrow graduated from Concordia University with a B.A. in Music and from the University of Oregon with an M.M. in Conducting featuring a double emphasis in Choral Conducting and Orchestral Conducting. Zeke has studied conducting with classical giants: Neil Varon, Helmuth Rilling, Matthew Halls, Mark Scatterday, Kelly Kuo, and Andrew Bisantz, with primary mentorship from Dr. David M. Jacobs, and Dr. Sharon J. Paul.
“I am eagerly looking forward to starting rehearsals with the Grande Ronde Symphony. We’ve got a fantastic opportunity to encourage artistic involvement from the community while continuing the legacy of excellence in La Grande. I’m excited to seek out and nurture new additions to the orchestra, while engaging our audience through creative programming,” commented Mr. Fetrow. He concluded, “I hope to work closely with the regional musical groups and school systems to foster a collaborative musical effort that inspires participation in creating music, and developing young musicians. We have a fantastic year planned, with exciting repertoire, collaborations and featured artists; it simply can’t be missed!”
The Grande Ronde Symphony is the longest, continuously operating orchestra east of the Cascade Mountains, and has always been associated with the higher education institution located in La Grande, Oregon. In 2014, Eastern Oregon University reorganized its Music Department, and decided to discontinue offering classes in orchestral ensemble education as well as providing a professorship for the conductor of the symphony. While the Grande Ronde Symphony Association still has ties with the University via providing rehearsal and performance facilities, along with offering college credits for playing in the orchestra, the Symphony is no longer directly affiliated with the Eastern Oregon University.
“The Grande Ronde Symphony Association is currently restructuring and taking on the challenge of maintaining the mission of the organization to support and promote the ongoing music programs of the Symphony Orchestra, the Grande Ronde Student Symphony, and the Chamber Series, thereby enhancing the quality of life in our region,” commented Ms. Sandoz. Fundraising is underway, and past and new patrons are being asked for their support through contributions to the Music Director Fund and contributions to the organization’s many programs. In addition, musicians interested in playing with the Symphony are greatly encouraged to consider joining the orchestra. For more information contact: Patty Sandoz at 541-963-7595 or email: email@example.com.