(The orchestra) has become what I planned but we have a lot left to achieve.Andrea Huff, Effingham Community Orchestra founder
SPRINGFIELD — Perched precariously on the edge of her seat in the Effingham County Recreation and Parks Department gym, Andrea Huff fidgeted like a toddler. She simply couldn't be still as the sound of her creation swirled around her. "The music is in me and it's got to come out," she said with a smile after playing an alto saxophone during the Effingham Community Orchestra's Eighth Annual "Our Favorites" Concert and Silent Auction on Aug. 19. Huff, a jazz devotee, founded the orchestra 11 years ago, joining 15 musicians who shared her dream of establishing an outlet for instrumentalists to continue to build their skills after the completion of public school classes. It currently features 30 performers and has had as many as 50. "(The orchestra) has become what I planned but we have a lot left to achieve," Huff said. In June, Huff handed the reins of orchestra leadership to Charles Patterson, an up-and-coming conductor and music educator who lives in Savannah. He won first prize in the International Conductor's Workshop and Competition in Atlanta last year. Huff remains as a consultant, volunteer and active musician. Patterson, who joined the orchestra 10 years ago as a French horn player, hasn't veered from Huff's original path. The orchestra continues to provide skill-enhancing and performance opportunities by conducting regular rehearsals and free concerts. "We've got freshmen in high school all the way up (to senior citizens)," Patterson said. "We will also take middle schoolers who have achieved District Honor Band status." The orchestra rehearses every other Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the United Way-Effingham Service Center in Rincon. The sessions typically last two hours. Currently, Patterson, orchestra director at Richmond Hill High School, is working to boost the community orchestra's string section. See the Aug. 29 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.