Rim Country Orchestra Looking For Musicians

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At the tender age of 13, violinist Rebecca Knauer is part of a musical revival in Payson.

The youngest of the dozen core players in the new Rim Country Orchestra, Knauer didn't hesitate to say "yes" when conductor Ron Sadlier asked her to join.

"I'm really excited," Knauer said.

Knauer, who has been playing violin for six years, was a student of Sadlier's when he taught in Payson schools. Now, she's looking forward to having a wider audience than she had playing with the school orchestra.

"It is a lot different playing with adults," Knauer said, "because we get to play a lot more advanced music, and it is nicer because we get more time to play."

Thus far, it's been all practice for the new orchestra, but Sadlier is planning to have his group ready for a small community concert by the end of September. And that's just the opening note for his musical vision.

"I want to build a strong string orchestra," Sadlier said.

Ultimately, he hopes the orchestra will play two major concerts a year and he also wants to be able to break musicians out into small ensembles of strings, woodwinds and brass in various combinations. That would fit his goal of bringing music, in a variety of ways, to the people of Payson.

"Because of my professional background, I have always wanted to share my love of music with the community," Sadlier said.

His background includes stints of playing French horn in the 1950s with the New Orleans and Tucson symphonies. He's also played with jazz bands, opera companies and for musicals.

Now his mission is to bring back a community orchestra to fill a void left when the Rim Civic Orchestra disbanded in 2002.

While making progress with the new group, Sadlier said he still needs another two dozen committed musicians to develop the complete orchestra that he envisions.

"In a perfect world we should have 20 strings and we have 12 so far," Sadlier said.

The orchestra also needs winds -- two flutes, two clarinets, two oboes and two bassoons. And, he said, there should be two trumpeters, four French horn players and three percussionists.

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As the lone cellist in the Rim Country Orchestra, Evelynn Dimbat adds a regal sound to the fledgling group. Director Ron Sadlier said he still needs another two dozen committed musicians.

He has a pianist, Barbara Dancho, who thinks the orchestra can give Payson a valuable cultural asset.

"I hope the community gets to hear a variety of orchestral music," she said.

Orchestra members now on board represent a range of ages and musical tastes. Some, like Dancho, have been playing an instrument since childhood.

One of those is David Curtis, who has played the violin since he was 7, although he admits there have been 20-year lapses.

"I was married 10 years before my wife ever knew I could play the violin," he said.

A fan of easy-listening music (nothing too "hep" and nothing "too long-hair"), Curtis enjoys being back into music. The orchestra, he said, gives him purpose and keeps him "... out of the pool halls."

Concert master and violinist, Natalie Durfee, has found another benefit of being part of the orchestra. Durfee, the full-time mom of a 15-month-old, said along with the musical respite, the orchestra gives her the opportunity to interact with adults.

The orchestra's Tuesday rehearsals at St. Paul's Episcopal Church are already drawing interest from music lovers.

Stopping in on a recent practice session, Jay Scott liked what he was hearing.

"I think the orchestra is probably one of the most important things we can have in a community," Scott said. "There must be a cultural life or a community has no color and no quality. The choral society is a very important part of this community. The loss of the RCO left a big hole."

To join

Musicians interested in joining the Rim Country Orchestra can contact Ron Sadlier at (928) 468-1757. The orchestra rehearses 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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