Thursday, February 22, 2024

Orchestra to celebrate 50th anniversary, holiday concert

| December 7, 2023 1:00 AM

The Bonners Ferry Community Orchestra, directed by Glenda Novinger, will perform a free holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. in Becker Auditorium at the Bonners Ferry High School. The concert, “A Christmas Jubilee! Celebrating 50 Years Together,” will feature music of the season – arrangements of traditional carols and popular Christmas melodies. 

This year’s holiday concert is especially exciting because it has been exactly 50 years since the Bonners Ferry Community Orchestra was initially founded in the fall of 1973. The orchestra welcomes a wide range of musicians from areas surrounding Bonners Ferry — from school-age to retired — and from beginners to professionals. In addition to the musical entertainment, the December 10, concert provides a chance to celebrate and recognize the vision of our community members who founded this unique organization so many years ago.

Over the summer and fall, to prepare for the celebration, several founding members of the orchestra helped flesh out the organization’s history. Sabira Van Adel, formerly Sabira Jackson, founded the orchestra in 1973 and conducted it for around 12 years, visited from New York in August and shared her stories in an interview. Longtime Bonners Ferry resident Carl Dahlberg, also shared his memories. Another longtime Bonners Ferry resident, Bob Saboe, continues to be a vital part of the trombone section and is the only original member still playing in the orchestra. 

Van Adel was trained as a music educator at a conservatory in Rotterdam and taught in high schools in Holland for several years before emigrating to the United States. She came to Bonners Ferry because her first husband had property here, and lived for many years in a cabin on Katka Road. She had violin students, but says she  misses directing orchestras because it was something she really loved. It’s like playing so many instruments at the same time! So I suggested we start an orchestra. We talked with the local music teacher, and we advertised … And just word of mouth. 

“At the first meeting we had, I had music there already and we just started right away, she said.” No one who wanted to participate was turned away. 

an Adel says the players who showed up “saw how much I loved to direct and help them along. And it was a really wonderful experience. I loved it! I looked forward to those nights every week.”

For many of the musicians, playing in the orchestra was a family activity. Dahlberg’s daughter Kathy Winn came to rehearsals with him and played flute from fourth grade through high school. 

 “Many times in a small community you have something like this, and it’s great for a few years and then it’s gone. But to think that the orchestra continued all those years with people moving on and people joining and moving on again…it just continued. It’s still playing great music even after all these years of so much transition. It still goes! I think that’s a big success.” 

   Glenda Novinger, left, current director of the Bonners Ferry Community Orchestra visits with Sabira Van Adel (previously Sabira Jackson), who founded the orchestra and was its first director. Sabira visited Bonners Ferry this August from the Holy Myrrhbearers' Monastery in Otego, N.Y.

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