2017-04-27 / Around Town


Newport County Orchestra a Local Gem
By Mark Gorman

Musical partnerships can be a wonderful thing. For 20 years, Aquidneck Island musicians have been teaming with college and high school students to make beautiful music together in the Newport County Orchestra at Salve Regina University.

Vincent Mattera, a Salve Regina adjunct faculty member, began leading the orchestra in 2012 following a 35-year career teaching music in Rhode Island high schools. He is really enjoying his second act.

“This orchestra is comprised of a wonderful group of people. It’s a true community group whose members are totally dedicated,” he said. As a community orchestra, the group is made up of three tiers, with 20 community members, eight Salve Regina students and seven high school students.

Retired Portsmouth Public Schools music educator Susan Woythaler and her husband, Saul, have been part of the Newport County Orchestra for many years. “This group is a gem in the crown of Newport,” she said. “Being a flutist, it’s a unique opportunity for me to play first flute parts in classical music. And playing a concert at the Casino Theatre is very close to my heart, as my bassoonist husband, Saul, and I met there in 1972 while playing in the pit orchestra for the musical, ‘Carousel.’”

The orchestra holds one concert each in May and December, and rehearses once a week for two hours. For Mattera, the trick has always been trying to balance having fun with playing challenging music. “We love making music together and I work hard to make being in the orchestra enjoyable. I refuse to take the fun out of it,” he said. “But we do play very challenging music.”

The orchestra performs many of Beethoven’s symphonies. In addition, Salve Regina professor and solo violinist Meghan O’ Connor will be performing “Spring and Summer,” from The Four Seasons, by Vivaldi, at the upcoming May 3 concert.

“My objective is to educate and to give everyone the experience of playing the best music the best we can, while having a great time doing it,” Mattera said.

That sounds just about right to us.

Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week.

TO Go:

WHEN: Wednesday, May 3, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Casino Theatre, 10 Freebody St., Newport

TICKETS: At the door or online, $8 general admission, $5 Salve faculty, staff, students

MORE INFO: 401-341-2295

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