It all began with a dream and a love of music.
Fifteen musicians met on July 15, 2007 to talk about their mutual desire to establish a community music group for local musicians. At that time, there was no group for instrumentalists in Effingham County. To have such a group would provide musicians with the opportunity to play and improve their skills.
And thus, the Effingham Community Orchestra was formed.
The group’s inaugural performance was before an estimated audience of 400 during a Veterans Day patriotic tribute on Nov. 11 of that same year. There were 29 members in the orchestra at that time.
The second performance was on March 20, 2008, once again at Veterans Park of Effingham County during the Submarine USS Georgia’s flag ceremony as that flag passed through Georgia on its way to be placed on the vessel.
A Certificate of Incorporation as a domestic nonprofit corporation was issued by the Georgia Secretary of State on May 19, 2008. More performances followed, including the annual holiday concert and homemade cookie sale, now in its 10th year.
This year’s concerts have included “It’s Showtime,” held May 1; and the annual “Our Favorites” concert and silent auction on Aug. 21. Both were held at the Effingham County Recreation and Parks Department Gymnasium in Springfield.
This year’s holiday concert and homemade cookie sale will also be held at the gymnasium, and is free to the public. The concert begins at 3 p.m. on Dec. 4. Cookies will be sold for $5 per baker’s dozen, mix or match, buyer’s choice.
Andrea Huff, long-standing member of Music Teachers National Association with more than 42 years of experience in private music instruction and conducting, leads the orchestra. She says the Christmas program has become a tradition for Effingham and the surrounding communities.
“It is very exciting for us that this is our 10th consecutive year performing a concert of holiday music for our audience, which grows larger each year,” she said. “This year’s concert is an all-new program including joyful celebratory pieces, fun and playful pieces, thought-provoking pieces, an audience sing-along of traditional carols and a funny surprise to amuse everyone. Without a doubt this will be the most unique and interesting holiday concert our orchestra has ever performed. We’re so excited and can hardly wait for concert day.”
Huff says the cookie sale is a signature fundraiser for the orchestra.
“Attendees remind me all year long to be sure to have all the homemade cookies available for purchase. We offer a large selection of irresistible cookies, candy and cupcakes, all homemade by our orchestra families and volunteers,” she said.
Huff says the sale is about more than just fundraising.
“People have a blast socializing with friends and neighbors as they go through the cookie line making their selections,” she said.
There will be two lines and two cashiers to help move things along more quickly, as well as pre-packaged assortments at the cashier table for quick purchase.
“We invite and encourage everyone to kick off the holiday season by spending the afternoon with us. Come and enjoy,” said Huff.
The Effingham Community Orchestra depends on contributions from its participants and interested supporters. If you would like to become a Friend of Effingham County Orchestra or would like more information on the organization, go online at www.effinghamcommunityorchestra.org.
*Editor's note: In the Nov. 30 edition of the Effingham Herald, the headline for this story was given the incorrect date by the Editor, Zack Lee, of Dec. 3. The error has been fixed in the above headline. Apologies are offered for this mistake in proofing.