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Three Minutes on a Park Bench With Andrew Perkins

Nothing brings a community together quite like music.

Andrew Perkins, director of the Fenton Community Orchestra
Andrew Perkins, director of the Fenton Community Orchestra

Music permeates the life of Andrew Perkins. And after our Q & A with the Michigan native, it’s clear that he wouldn’t have things any other way. 

Perkins is a conductor, teacher, and composer – and is even accomplished at writing jingles.

The director of the Fenton Community Orchestra, open to musicians ages 8 and up, as well as the head of Fenton High School’s music department, Perkins knows exactly how music can bring diverse communities of people together.

Like Confucius said in the firth century BC, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” 

Here’s what Andrew Perkins has to say on the subject:

Patch: Let’s start with a quick description of the Fenton Community Orchestra? 

Perkins: Since 2010, the Fenton Community Orchestra has been one of the city’s cultural gems, bringing symphonic music to the entire community.  Founded by local musicians and philanthropists with a vision and desire to perform traditional orchestral music locally, the group has grown over the last four seasons.  According to the ensembles board of directors, their purpose is to create a place for musicians of all ages to connect through music by providing an educational and entertaining music program both for its members and its audiences. 

P: How did you get started with the orchestra?

Perkins: I was approached at the end of the first season by the President of the board of directors, Jennifer Fleck.  She had worked with me through the band boosters organization, and thought I would be a great fit as full time music director for the orchestra.  This is now my third season as the conductor.

P: What is the most challenging aspect of working with such a wide range of ages? 

Perkins: The biggest challenge in working with such a wide range of ages is keeping everyone engaged.  We have some semi-professional players who are ready for an intense, demanding musical experience, and others who are participating for the fun of playing together.  Finding just the right balance in terms of music selection, difficulty level, and rehearsal pacing and environment can be a challenge, but I think it makes for a rehearsal that everyone enjoys, myself included.

P: What is your favorite music to work on with the orchestra?

Perkins: My favorite works are usually romantic period symphonic works by Tschaikovsky, Shostakovich, Dvorak, and their contemporaries, but I also enjoy some of the Italian Operatic overtures.  Right now we are playing “The Barber of Seville” by Rossinni and it’s a joy to conduct.

P: What's your most vivid memory from working with FCO? 

Perkins: Probably our most recent concert performance.  It was an amazing experience, and certainly the best that the orchestra has ever played.  Many wonderful memories are made in rehearsal, as well as some of our best music, so it’s hard to pick just one.

P: Are you originally from Fenton? 

Perkins: I was born in Royal Oak and grew up in Rochester.  I’ve lived in Fenton for 12 years.

P: Who is the funniest person in the orchestra? 

Perkins: The funniest person in the orchestra is probably George, a baritone horn player in his eighties.  He’s got some classic jokes.

P: What's #3 on your bucket list? 

Perkins: On my “orchestra” bucket list would probably be to travel with the group and perform in an amazing venue like Carnegie Hall or overseas somewhere. 

P: When does the orchestra next perform and why should the fine folks of Fenton come out and watch?

Perkins: We perform next at the Fenton Business Expo March 1 2014, and again on May 2, both here at the high school.  People should come out to hear us because we always play something for everyone, and it’s a great time with great music!

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"Three Minutes on a Park Bench With..." is a feature that lets you peek inside the lives of people who share your patch of Earth, whether its your street, your town or state. They may be firefighters, moms, bagpipers or brewmasters, but they all have one thing in common—passion. They love what they do and where they do it. Actual park bench optional so if you know a great person for this space drop us a line at Catherine.crawford@patch.com.  

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