To the Tune of Selflessness

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written by Meredith Frengs Wales | photos by Robert Delahanty


Across the state, giving Oregonians dedicate their lives to helping share the gift of music with people of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles. Our residents provide instruments and lessons, mentorship, and inspiration via life-enriching nonprofit organizations. The following local nonprofits are committed to providing a cultural experience to community members who might need it the most. Share your love and support for the musical arts in 2014. ‘Tis always the season to think about those in need. Maybe you are getting ready to file your 2013 taxes and realized that your “contributions” list could be longer in 2014. Maybe you need a birthday gift for the friend-who-has-it-all, and you want to donate in their name. Get involved. Donate. Play music.

Ethos Music Center / Statewide

A beloved Portland neighborhood resource went big time when Ethos Music Center launched its Rural Outreach Project. In addition to offering a range of onsite classes and operating its Music Corps program in schools throughout the Portland Metropolitan area, Ethos now reaches over 2,400 students in rural and historically underserved communities annually throughout the state of Oregon. This school year, 10 Ethos representatives live and teach music fulltime in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and in the towns of Condon, Elkton, Fossil, Long Creek, Madras and Monument. Ethos engages communities and provides each with a much-needed creative outlet for its most impressionable young citizens.

Portland’s Ethos branch will be performing American King Umps on select dates from January 30-Feruary 15. Find more information here.

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PHAME Academy of Fine Arts / Portland Metropolitan Area

Young and older adults with developmental disabilities are inspired to lead full and creative lives through arts education and performance as students of Portland’s PHAME Academy. Beyond basic music performance, visual arts and creative writing classes, the organization also offers a series of specialized workshops taught by renowned Northwest artists of all stripes. 2014 marks PHAME’s 30th anniversary, and its dedicated staff have pulled out all the stops to offer students and supporters once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The upcoming season includes the chance for participating students to perform plays during the Fertile Ground Festival, sing in a choir alongside Laura Gibson, and show their artwork in the chic Place Gallery in Pioneer Place Mall.

PHAME students will play at the Fertile Ground Festival  on Sunday February 1st. Get tickets here.

My Voice Music/ Portland Metropolitan Area

Sometimes all a struggling child needs is to find his/her voice. Portland’s My Voice Music is committed to helping at-risk and marginalized youth connect with music since 2008. Their goal, according to Founder and Executive Director Ian Mouser, is to engage youth who are experiencing challenges in music and performance to help them cope, heal and thrive. The group currently reaches over 1,000 children and young adults through their wide range of in- and after-school programs and music therapy efforts. In addition, My Voice’s more intimate “Artist Mentorship Program” includes camps, concert performances, recording opportunities and the particularly important benefit of year-round mentorship to young adults in need.

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photos by Robert Delahanty

Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon / Southern Oregon

Since 1988, the YSSO has exposed young residents of the Southern Oregon region aged 6 to 23 to timeless and inspirational classical music. The group seeks to provide musical instruction to students of all backgrounds while teaching discipline, teamwork and technique. YSSO organizes three orchestras: Youth Strings, Youth Orchestra, and Youth Symphony—each dedicated to enriching the minds of their young performers through weekly rehearsals and frequent live performances.

YSSO hosts its Winter Concert Series in various local venues February 21-23. Location and ticket information is available on their website.

Wallowa Valley Music Alliance / Eastern Oregon

A small group of musicians and educators gathered in 2004 with the hopes of fostering the growth of music communities in Wallowa County and throughout the rural inland Northwest. Nearly ten years later, the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance is delivering youth and lifelong-learners myriad educational music experiences. WVMA also operates its own facility, the Woodshed, where dedicated staff and volunteers offer a safe and encouraging environment for creative expression. Programs include their popular school-age program Musical Expressions for Youth and the songwrite series, Tunesmith. Each summer the team presents its popular Fiddle Tunes Camp and the newer Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas, in addition to the community-celebrated “Courthouse Concert Series,” held in Enterprise every Thursday during the warmer months.

WVMA’s next monthly songwriter showcase, Tunesmith, is on February 8. Learn more about their offerings here.

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