By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
Not many hills around here, but it is alive with music. The Volusia Community Symphony is wrapping the fall portion of its annual season on Sunday, Dec. 16, with "Holiday Pops on the Halifax."
The show will be at Temple Israel of Daytona Beach, 1400 S. Peninsula Dr. It'll start at 3 p.m. Admission is $15.
The symphony will take a break after the show, and resume practicing and scheduling in January.
"This is the 33rd season," conductor Chet Niemann said. "I think '80 is when it started."
The symphony was long known as the DeLand Little Symphony. The name change happened a couple years back to reflect the growing geographic area from where musicians came and performances were done.
"We got more cosmopolitan," Mr. Niemann said. "It wasn't just DeLand anymore. About two-thirds (of musicians) came from other areas."
The symphony is many things to many people. For Jill Rubin it was a chance to dust off an old love, the clarinet.
"I played through college, then I didn't take it out again until a couple years before joining the symphony," she said. "My son was in fifth grade and wanted to learn."
That was in 2005.
"I hadn't played for quite a while," Ms. Rubin said. "Because Chet has a background as (a music) educator, he's really good at getting people back in who haven't played for awhile."
Mr. Niemann and a few others.
"We have quite a few retired professionals who play," Mr. Niemann said. "We have two music teachers who play with us."
Ms. Rubin said playing in the symphony is as much about being a student and teacher as a performer.
"(The symphony) has members from 13-years-old to 80-something," she said. "It's a good mix."
The symphony got started as a musical education and performance program almost by accident. Donlyn Guerlinger was a local, multi-instrument musician who did performances with Stetson University music teacher and cello player Eleanor Leek Smith. Their duets attracted other musicians and things grew until the symphony was formed.
The symphony has about 75 members. Some make all the performances. Others can't due to family and work responsibilities. Mr. Niemann said all musicians are welcome and he finds ways to use each based on their skills and availability. He said about 60 are at any performance.
Dianne Richards, president and flautist, had also let her craft go for several decades after school. She said the symphony not only helped get her chops back, but it's given her dozens of wonderful memories.
"There's a little 11-year-old girl sitting next to her mother playing oboe," she said. "How great is that? I think the people that are involved -- they're amazing. They really enjoy (music)."
For information about seeing, donating to, joining or scheduling the symphony, visit volusiacommunitysymphony.org.