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Making Beautiful Music Together

Prof. Baldini leading the Community Orchestra of Keene

Keene State College offers a couple of excellent opportunities for local musicians—of any age and talent—who want to get better at their art, learn to play with others, and enjoy the company of like-minded souls. Resident Artist Don Baldini brings his wealth of music experience to the two community-focused orchestras he leads: the KSC Orchestra and COOK—the Community Orchestra of Keene. Basically, the KSC Orchestra is made up of college students and older adults, while younger, high school, junior high, and even elementary students play in the COOK. But those lines are by no means firmly drawn. There is presently an older adult in the COOK, and high school students often play with the KSC Orchestra. Both groups are pretty much open to anyone in the community who wants to play orchestral music and receive excellent instruction—and have some fun.

The KSC Orchestra is part of the College’s Music program, while the COOK was created three years ago by the Keene Community Music Center, though each group practices on Wednesday evening in the Redfern’s orchestra room. The COOK musicians come primarily from the local high school and jr. high music programs. “We have one woman who joined because her daughter is in it,” Prof. Baldini explained. “It’s a chance for parents to participate in something with their kids—for a parent and a child to play in the same orchestra and do something together. This is one of the great things a college can offer a community: People at all levels can receive good instruction and make music together.”

Join In!

Interested but still a little intimidated? Don’t be: There’s no audition for the COOK. All you need is an instrument—and the Community Music Center has some to loan. Though it’s currently a string orchestra, because the local schools have a strong string program, Prof. Baldini would like to include other instruments, so get in touch if you’re interested, no matter what you play.

Harmonious family time with the COOK
Harmonious family time with the COOK

These orchestras offer something Prof. Baldini really believes in: “I started playing in orchestras when I was in third grade, and I don’t think I would have become a musician if it hadn’t been for that,” he said. “It gave me the social aspect that all kids need and put playing music into a whole new category.”

The KSC Orchestra’s next concert is on Dec. 2. The COOK’s will be held in the Redfern’s Alumni Recital Hall on November 18. “You’d be surprised—they really sound good!” Prof. Baldini said. “I mix it up: I try to make it educational, but I also try to make it fun. This time we’re doing something from The Four Seasons, and we’re doing some stuff from the Peanuts Christmas Special. The kids have to feel like they’re having fun—it can’t be all work. And they respond to it. Last spring we did music from the movies, including tunes from Frozen.

“It’s been a really positive experience, not only for the kids, but for me,” he continued. “It’s an interesting change of hats to work with kids this age. They’re very enthusiastic and they have great attitudes.”

If you’re interested in giving the KSC Orchestra a try, contact Prof. Baldini. If you’re interested in the COOK, fill out the application on the Community Music Center’s web page.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435