September 23, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
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The Young Columbians Are Coming To SPHS On June 10

Darrell Mak
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May 17, 2017

Concertgoers will be in for a treat when the Young Columbians perform at Severna Park High School on Saturday, June 10, as the last performance of the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association’s 2016-2017 season.

Typically, AACCA uses an agency service to select which shows to present during the season. But the Young Columbians caught the eye the AACCA’s board of directors, including Gale Gillespie, president of AACCA, when they watched the group perform last year at the Performing Arts Association in Linthicum.

“We were very impressed,” recalled Gillespie. “We weren’t scouting in particular, but we like to engage at least one artist directly.” The Young Columbians seemed to fit the bill perfectly. “They were a well-polished, relatively local group focusing on performing upbeat patriotic songs, stories, dances and salute-to-Broadway silhouettes,” added Gillespie.

The Young Columbians — a group of about 40 young singers ages 12 to 20 — deem themselves Howard County’s premier performance troupe. Created in 1975 for America’s bicentennial, this unique ensemble has performed its Spirit of America, Broadway and Christmas shows at many prestigious places, including the White House, Wolf Trap, Disney World, the Kennedy Center and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

“They sing, they dance and do some readings too,” said Gillespie. “The show is very cleverly put together such that one thing segues into another. It’s a really artful way of moving along a story and a song program.”

The Young Columbians is directed by Toby Orenstein, who has been the artistic director and owner of Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia since 1979. In addition, Orenstein is the founder and director of the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts Inc. In 1972, Orenstein created a school for young people who possessed an interest in the performing arts. A special group of those students, dubbed the Young Columbians, was invited to the White House and performed a musical tribute to America during the bicentennial year.

The AACCA is a volunteer-run organization bringing the arts to the county at a low cost to members/subscribers. The group aims to present a wide range of performances, including vocal groups, trios of instruments and even individual performers. Concert themes have included country/western, Caribbean/island, quartets and jazzy ensembles.

Selecting the performances each season, however, has its challenges. The group must juggle priorities such as staying on budget, maintaining performance variety and accommodating a tight schedule. “It’s like walking on a tightrope making sure everything fits,” said Gillespie.

In its 65th year, AACCA is always on the lookout for volunteers as well as new members. As an added bonus, Gillespie said purchasers of 2017-2018 season tickets will receive complimentary tickets to see the Young Columbians performance as well.

“It’s a huge bargain for the price,” emphasized Gillespie. “Parking is free, and it’s close by. I can’t imagine why everyone wouldn’t want to do that!”

Most AACCA performances are at the new Severna Park High School auditorium and start at 7:30pm. The Young Columbians will be the second AACCA performance at the newly built school. “We were just as pleased as punch with the new auditorium at the new school,” exclaimed Gillespie.


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