DCOA hopeful for a 2021-22 concert season

DCOA hopeful for a 2021-22 concert season By LAURA QUEZADA, News Review Staff Writer

The performing arts have not been immune to the effects of COVID restrictions. According to Lisa Austin, President of the Board of Directors of the Desert Community Orchestra Association (DCOA), “We, like just about every other orchestra, LA Philharmonic included, had to cancel our season. You can’t gather to rehearse, you can’t invite an audience. It has basically shut us down this year. We did try to do a little bit of small ensemble work to put on Facebook. But the orchestra as we know it has not been able to gather or perform. The board is still meeting, taking care of things. We are hoping to have a season in the fall of 2021. I know our conductor, Robert Martinez is interested in getting going again. We will just have to see.”

“I think most people, as musicians, are not going to give up their instruments so people are still practicing. There is a lot of local talent. It is pretty amazing, a lot of talent out in the middle of nowhere. But there are a lot of educated people, people who studied music, and patrons of the arts. Many of the scientists and engineers working on the base are also musicians and have joined the orchestra. The orchestra has a big pool of talent available, but the size of the orchestra depends on the music that is selected for the concert. Some orchestrations have a smaller orchestra, some orchestrations have a bigger orchestra. Generally we have about 50 members that are needed for each concert.”

The DCOA formally started in 1960 with a board of directors. Their three main objectives are: offer the Indian Wells Valley a choice in music performance, give youth the experience to play in a symphonic orchestra, and to give music scholarships to help students pay for college musical expenses. Details for the Peter Pinto Scholarship Audition will be coming soon.

Unfortunately, no concert season means no ticket sales and no incoming funds. Fortunately, the DCO benefits from the annual fundraising event for regional non-profits, the Give Big Kern Campaign is hosted by Kern Community Foundation to foster local philanthropy in support of 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in Kern County.

Billed as “One Day to Celebrate the Giving Spirit of Kern County” the event is being held this year on May 4, 2021. To donate go to the website https://www.givebigkern.org/, search for Desert Community Orchestra, View the Profile where there are several options and levels of giving as well as choosing your own amount. A donation will raise funds for next season and the Peter Pinto Scholarship.

There is an informal screening and audition process to become an orchestra member. After discussing your background, if you have enough experience and want to try it, you will be invited to a rehearsal where you can determine if it is a good fit for you. Interested musicians can reach Lisa Austin via the contact page on the DCO website: http://desertcommunityorchestra.weebly.com.

Pictured: The Desert Community Orchestra has been bringing concerts to the area since the early 1960s. Pictured are a few performers of the approximately 50-member group. Left photo, DCO conductor Robbie Martinez, comments, ‘interested in getting going again.’ - File Photos by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2021-02-19