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A new force for music in Snohomish County

Music project makes plans for pops orchestra and more

  • Dr. Benjamin Killey, an emergency room physician, practices for an upcoming benefit performance in the new Everett Music Hall at the Everett Mall.

    Michael O'Leary/The Herald

    Dr. Benjamin Killey, an emergency room physician, practices for an upcoming benefit performance in the new Everett Music Hall at the Everett Mall.

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By Theresa Goffredo
Herald Writer
  • Dr. Benjamin Killey, an emergency room physician, practices for an upcoming benefit performance in the new Everett Music Hall at the Everett Mall.

    Michael O'Leary/The Herald

    Dr. Benjamin Killey, an emergency room physician, practices for an upcoming benefit performance in the new Everett Music Hall at the Everett Mall.

Not too far in the future, you'll be able to buy tickets for a local concert of Beatles music played by a popular Seattle cover band.
Also someday, every third- to fifth-grader in Snohomish County could have the chance to own and operate a flute recorder.
The future will also mean a permanent pops orchestra based in Everett.
This is not a pipe organ dream. These goals are part of the 10-year plan of a new music organization called the Snohomish County Music Project.
Community leaders, musicians and music patrons all hope that this new project will be the bright note that rises above a somber loss.
In January 2010, the Everett Symphony cut its season short, closing down after 70 years because of financial reasons.
After 14 months of planning, studies and surveys, the reasons for the symphony's financial problems were revealed.
"Our studies showed that we need to appeal to a larger portion of our community," said Myrna Overstreet, symphony board member.
And so the Snohomish County Music Project was born.
The music project, or SCMP, combines a sense of community mission, with hands-on musical experiences for the public and a pops orchestra, to be called Sound Edge Pops, to create large-scale appeal.
"Our community told us that it wants us to break free of the traditional classical-music-only mold." said Ron Friesen, the artistic director of SCMP.
"Pops orchestra music certainly includes popular classics," Friesen said, "but also revels in modern masterpieces such as the exciting movie themes we know and love from "Star Wars" to "Pirates of the Caribbean."
These Sound Edge Pops concerts will be produced in partnership with other local nonprofits and charities as part of SCMP's mission to help these groups raise funds.
For example, SCMP is planning a concert for March 2012 that features Beatles tunes performed by a yet-to-be-named cover band backed by a 50-piece orchestra. The concert will be held as a benefit for Senior Services, a Snohomish County nonprofit group.
The music project also plans on supporting nonprofits and charities with small concerts of all music genres at SCMP's new 300-seat concert venue in the Everett Mall now called Everett Music Hall.
Now Everett Music Hall can be used as a fundraising venue while using "the power of music to inspire people to strengthen our community," said Roger Pawley, SCMP executive director.
SCMP's 10-year plan is based on a concept used by other community orchestras around the country called "artistic citizenship." The concept basically means that an arts organization provides greater benefits to a community beyond entertainment.
In addition, the music project will also be helping schools retain and expand music programs by creating a demand for music education "by motivating children to express themselves with music," the organization said.
In fact, one of the first goals of SCMP will be to investigate the possibility of bringing a program here called LinkUP! The program can be offered to schools across Snohomish County to ensure that every third- to fifth-grader has the chance to own a musical recorder and receive instruction on how to play.
Part of that LinkUP! program would involve an annual music festival so youngsters can perform with a full orchestra at special concerts.
SCMP is also planning to help create music programs that support classroom teachers and after-school programs.
"This district and community value music and arts education," said Allison Larsen, humanities curriculum specialist for the Everett School District. "The SCMP partnership is welcome evidence of that support and community tradition."
Now that the Snohomish County Music Project is here, what about the Everett Symphony?
The short answer is the orchestra will remain in hiatus.
After the symphony's season was canceled, two new classical orchestras formed: the Everett Philharmonic and Pacifica Orchestra. That brings the total to at least five classical music orchestras playing in the county, so "there is little room for the Everett Symphony to redevelop a classical music following," Pawley said.
"By forming a new pops orchestra, we hope to provide new opportunities for musicians," Pawley said.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;

Benefit concert
Pianist Benjamin Killey performs a benefit concert for the Snohomish County Music Project at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the new Everett Music Hall, 1402 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for seniors, and free admission for students. For more information call 425-258-1605 or go to
Killey, a Providence Regional Medical Center doctor, will perform works from Chopin and Debussy.
Killey grew up on a cattle and hog farm in rural Illinois. He began his piano career at age 7. He attended Illinois Wesleyan University where he earned a double degree in piano performance and biology. He was the 1997-98 Music Teachers National Association state piano competition winner for Illinois. He was also named the Most Outstanding Graduate in the School of Music.
He went to medical school at Southern Illinois University. He also continued performing. Upon completing his residency in 2007, Killey moved and began practicing medicine in the emergency departments at Providence Regional Medical Center-Everett and Valley General Hospital in Monroe.
In his free time, he sings with the Seattle Mens Chorus, plays as much volleyball as possible, and teaches piano.
Story tags » Arts, Culture & Entertainment

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