Oregon Symphony Offers New Kid’s Storytime Online

Oregon Symphony Offers New Kid’s Storytime Online

Portland, OR. “Kids are at home, parents are home-schooling, and we believed we could help,” explains Norman Hunyh, the Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony. It was because of the dearth of summer activities for kids that Symphony Storytime was born. In each episode of the new virtual series, a narrator reads a classic children’s book while members of the Oregon Symphony provide background music and sound effects. Assistant Principal Oboist Karen Wagner and host Amy Haroldson (seen in the photo above) tell the story of a “Top Cat” who doesn’t want to share his house and favorite things. (photo credit, Jacob Wade). 

A lesson on the featured background instrument makes these 15-minute episodes both entertaining and educational. On June 25,  the first episodes of Symphony Storytime were released. One was called “Mole Music,” and features the Cello. When Mole finally learns to play the violin, his music has an effect more magical than he will ever know. Written by David McPhail. Hosted by Amy Haroldson and featuring Marilyn de Oliveira, assistant principal cello.

Assistant Principal Oboist Karen Wagner and host Amy Haroldson perform for the Oregon Symphony’s new children’s program, Symphony Storytime (Jacob Wade).

Hunyh provided the artistic vision for Symphony Storytime by setting educational objectives and establishing the flow of each piece, among other responsibilities. Hunyh described this project as “new and exciting territory”. 

Assistant Principal Second Violinist Inés Voglar Belgique (Jacob Wade)

Assistant Principal Cellist Marilyn de Oliveira (Jacob Wade)

Each story was chosen because it meant something special to the musicians.  

“I really like [Mole Music] because it talks about how music changes Mole’s life, and it also shows us how music can change the world around us,” says cellist Marilyn de Oliveira in the first episode. 

Guitarist and vocalist Edna Vazquez and percussionist and host Sergio Carreno maintain social distance on set. Hunyh’s top priority was the health and safety of musicians and staff. (Jacob Wade)

Many participants in the project are native Spanish speakers, such as guitarist and vocalist Edna Vázquez who performs in the Symphony Storytime episode “Necesito un Abrazo”, which helped inspire the creation of unique Spanish episodes. The Spanish episodes are not translations of the English episodes, rather their own stories, intended to support and engage the Latinx community. 

Symphony Storytime’s first release included “Mole Music”, “Top Cat”, and “Goodnight Bob” in English featuring cello, oboe, and percussion, respectively. Necesito un Abrazo” and Ve, Perro. ¡Ve!” were released in Spanish, featuring guitar and violinMore episodes will be released on July 2 and July 9. 

From the Oregon Symphony:

The power of music to unite and inspire is boundless. Music lifts us higher on our most joyful days, and draws us together in challenging times. As soon as it’s safe, we’ll be back – performing for you in our concert hall and reaching out to children and adults across our region.


Community Energy Project Adapts to COVID-19 Limitations

Community Energy Project Adapts to COVID-19 Limitations

Portland, OR.  Community Energy Project Home Energy Score Assessor, Jackie Zusi-Russell maintains social distance while evaluating client’s homes, but she’s still working to determine their energy score. Community Energy Project (CEP) has been educating and aiding homeowners in the greater Portland area for over the past 40 years. In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEP has been forced to adapt.  

In-Home Auditor Geoff Fey works with a homeowner installing a water heater before quarantine began.

In-person home services are being provided, with a larger focus on exterior work to maintain social distancing. Heightened safety procedures require workers to wear gloves and masks with high enough quality to filter out asbestos. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums are also used during interior services to help filter the air. 

With more people stuck at home during quarantine, CEP is placing a larger focus on ventilation and filtration systems 

“Home is thought to be the first line of defense,” said Development Director Cameo Konfrst. 

Programs are typically directed towards seniors and those with disabilities. Low-income homes are also able to apply for free supplies and services. As paid programs have taken a hit, however, it becomes more difficult for CEP to fund free programs. 

Community Energy Project supports inclusivity, placing emphasis on serving a diverse community, according to their 2018-2019 Equity Report.

Konfrst urges people to invest more in local nonprofits such as CEP instead of nationalstating that smaller, local nonprofits can adapt more easily to the unique situation of a given area 

As a result of the economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic, society is hurting worst at the bottom, and that is where CEP is focusing. 

Workshops that were previously held in person have become virtual, but it is more difficult for CEP to reach their audience in comparison to other nonprofits. Low-income families do not all have the means to go digital. Workshops are being repeated at various times to help reach a wider audience. A calendar of events and registration are available on the CEP website.

From Community Energy Project: 

By empowering people with information and tools and facilitating connections to resources, we can increase the capacity of our community to address many home, environmental, health, comfort, and safety issues while conserving natural resources. 

Hoyt Arboretum Continues to Educate Younger Generation During Pandemic

Hoyt Arboretum Continues to Educate Younger Generation During Pandemic

Portland, OR.  You can’t see kids shoulder to shoulder learning at the Hoyt Arboretum this summer, but there’s still lots to do. Although the Visitor Center is closed, the Hoyt Arboretum trails in Washington Park remain open from 5 A.M. to 10 P.M. every day. Online workshops replace the usual programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Programs include Birding by Ear, Virtual Nature Journaling, and Exploration Wednesday. Birding programs have become the most popular, according to Anna Goldrich, Executive Director of Hoyt Arboretum Friends. Where the classroom in the Visitor Center could only host up to 15 people, around 50 have been logging on to the virtual birding program.  

The youth program “TreeTime!” geared toward two to six-year-olds, has also moved online. The program schedule remains the same, taking place at 10 A.M on Mondays. Instead of walking through the park, however, the meeting takes place on Zoom. 

Event calendars and sign-ups are located on the Hoyt Arboretum Website. Access to programming is payable on a sliding scale to accommodate those facing financial difficulties. 

Volunteers trimming bamboo during a previous work party (Photo credit, Hoyt Arboretum)

The visitor center is currently closed to the public.

Memberships have recently increased in appreciation for Hoyt Arboretum’s virtual programs. Without the Visitors’ Center gift shop, wedding rentals, and field trips, Hoyt relies more heavily on members and donors. While funding sources diminish, expenses rise to maintain the park. In normal circumstances, approximately 2000 hours of volunteer work would have taken place between April and June. Hoyt must now divert funds toward landscape work and equipment. 

From Hoyt Arboretum:  

Portland’s museum of living trees, Hoyt Arboretum thrives thanks to a long-term partnership between Portland Parks & Recreation and the nonprofit Hoyt Arboretum Friends. With over 6,000 trees and 12 miles of trails free and open to the public year-round, the Arboretum is maintained by a dedicated community of volunteers and members. A beautiful destination for recreation, it’s also an important resource for education, research, and conservation. 

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