There’s more art and culture in Moore – Moore County, that is – than many non-Sandhillians might imagine. Just on the music side of the house, there’s a very fine concert series, based in the Sunrise Theater, where the Met’s HD offerings may also be seen and heard. There is a remarkable series of lectures and concerts in the Weymouth Center. And there are at least two locally-based orchestras that hold the symphonic fort, as it were, between the NC Symphony’s regular visits.

The Moore Philharmonic Orchestra‘s name implies a level of grandeur to which its members doubtless aspire. It played its holiday concert this year in Lee Auditorium, one of our more attractive (and acoustically-appealing) regional venues. Old timers will doubtless make note of the fact that the hall, part of Pinecrest High School‘s expansive campus, is located on Voit Gilmore Lane – the politician was one of the region’s major supporters of and advocates for the NC Symphony (and a close personal friend of Maxine and Benjamin Swalin).

The Moore PO’s purpose is “helping develop students for the world’s stages,” Its ranks thus consist of young musicians, some of whom are almost certainly experiencing their first tastes of ensemble playing, plus teachers (who guide and mentor the younger players) and other community volunteers. The complement is around 60 players. Founding conductor Eric Kopecky teaches at Southern Middle School. The orchestra seems to do a lot of outreach, resulting in frequent performing opportunities for its members or groups thereof. One of its more notable projects is a scholarship program, funded by donations from the community.

It’s a challenge to pick repertory for an ensemble like this, with wide-ranging skill levels. A note in the program explains the goal of performing music “graded at the high school and college level with quality.” This doubtless explains the large number of arrangements offered on this holiday program.

The music ranged from Corelli (a movement of the “Christmas Concerto”) to a medley of tunes from fairly recent seasonal movies. Along the way were scores by Victor Herbert, Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, and a delightful (and rarely heard) waltz by Waldteufel that wasn’t “The Skater’s.” There were two other well-apportioned holiday medleys, the bottom lines of which were generous servings of some of our best-known hymns, carols, and songs. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” got things off to a nice start. “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” which is of course a medley, too, served as a strong finale. (This last item, popularized by the Trans-Siberians, is not the happiest of holiday tunes – for details, click here.)

A highlight of the second half was a cameo appearance by members of the Chancel Choir of West End United Methodist Church. It would have been nice if the choir could have done a bit more – perhaps an a cappella number or two under the leadership of its own director, Glenda Clendenin.

The substantial crowd, no doubt mostly family members and friends of the musicians, gave the performers enthusiastic encouragement and, at the end, a standing ovation, despite the fact that the Corelli excerpt and the Tchaikovsky transcription – and several other items on this program – were not really public-performance ready.

The orchestra’s next formal concert will be on April 25 at Sandhills Community College. See our calendar closer to that date for details.