Enriching the Community through Music

by Katie Hurst

For many people in the Goshen area, Maple City Community Orchestra offers a valuable connection to the arts. This connection begins with the members of the orchestra themselves, extends to their families and friends, and includes any others who may attend the concerts at Sauder Hall on Goshen College’s campus.

Anna Yoder Schlabach is a cellist in the orchestra. MCCO provides an outlet for the stay-at-home mother of twins to be involved in the community, get out of the house, and play quality music with others. “They see their mom when I’m playing on stage, but I’m totally inaccessible to them up there in a different role,” she says. “I think it’s great for them to see me enjoying doing something that is totally separate from them.”

MCCO not only brings together families, but crosses generational lines to bring music to the community. David Cunningham is 63 years old and expresses his gratitude for continued involvement in an organization that prioritizes exceptional music and continued artistic growth for all members. “MCCO affords the only opportunity for an amateur musician to be involved with a large ensemble,” he says. “To be without MCCO would leave a huge hole in my life.”

The same is true for the entire community. MCCO’s concerts are free and open to the public, providing an opportunity for anyone to experience quality music in a world-class performing arts hall. This is especially important for families with young children, including Yoder Schlabach. She mentions how much she values the experience for her children, as they become exposed to quality music in a low-stakes setting.

Yoder Schlabach also notes how practicing at home, as well as listening to recordings in preparation for concerts has ended up being a positive experience for the whole family. “Playing the music at home prepares them and me. They enjoy the concerts more when they recognize the music having heard it at home,” she says.

MCCO features soloists of different instruments at concerts, and Yoder Schlabach says that this is when, for her, the music comes alive. The 2016 holiday season featured pianist and Goshen College professor Kathryn Schmidt, who also happens to be a Sunday School teacher for Yoder Schlabach’s kids. Yoder Schlabach mentions how rewarding it is for her children to be able to see people in their life involved in the community in a variety of ways.

“And,” she adds, “you’re never too young to hear live music.”