New River Orchestra: A Passion for Music and Community

The New River Orchestra presents its 2014 Summer Serenades concert series at three Broward County venues, including the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Aug. 3.

The 50 professional and amateur musicians who band together each summer are passionate about the music they rehearse and perform, but they also strive to make a difference in their South Florida communities.

Many of the musicians are professionals who perform with the Symphony of the Americas, Sunrise Pops and Highland Chamber Orchestra, said board member Dr. Bill Bryan. But a significant number are advanced amateurs, like Bryan, who have studied music and appreciate the opportunity to perform with an exceptional orchestra.

Bryan, 71, a registered nurse and college professor who first studied violin as a child, started taking violin lessons again nearly a decade ago. After an injury that made playing violin difficult, he joined the orchestra’s cello section.

“We perform in various orchestras throughout the winter, but we’re not snowbirds and were looking for something to do during the summer,” explained Bryan.

Founded nine years ago by Beverly Daw, the orchestra was built on unique partnerships with local non-profits, donating half of the concert proceeds to churches, synagogues and service organizations that host the ensemble’s three performances.

“We just want to use our music to help others, whether it be the local humane society, children’s groups, churches or veterans,” Bryan said.

This summer, the New River Orchestra will again present three concerts at local churches as part of its Summer Serenade series: Sunday, July 27 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Coral Springs; Saturday, Aug. 2 at St. Martin Episcopal Church in Pompano Beach; and Sunday, Aug. 3 at Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church in Fort Lauderdale.

The orchestra will perform a program of traditional classical and pops selections under the direction of two internationally renowned conductors, Dr. Clark McAlister, vice president and editor-in-chief of Edwin F. Kalmus and Master Music Publications, and Broadway conductor and composer Maestro Peter Fuchs.

The program features oboist Janice Gillies performing Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Strings in G Major and 13-year-old violin virtuoso Michael Hakkarainen will be tackling the dazzling “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saëns. Hakkarainen was a finalist in the International Louis Spohr Violin Competition in Germany last November.

Vocalists Sara McMillan Burns and Kurt Litzenberger will sing “The Prayer,” the lusch, lyrical song made famous by Andrea Bocelli, at the concerts in Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Melissa and Daniel Gardes will be the featured vocalists at the Coral Springs concert.

Rounding out the program will be “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance,” and works by Faure, Rimsky-Korsakov and LeGrand.

Donations are tax-deductible and the orchestra is already seeking partners for the 2015 concert season. For more information, contact Bryan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Partner venues must be able to accommodate the 50-piece orchestra in the proposed performance space.

The New River Orchestra presents its 2014 Summer Serenades on Sunday, July 27 at 3 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 1401 Coral Ridge Dr. in Coral Springs, 954-753-3330; Saturday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m. at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 140 SE 28th Ave. in Pompano Beach, 954-941-4843; and Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 SW 9th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, For more information, go to

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