The Oshawa Express - Concordia Pops a family affair
   
Concordia Pops a family affair

Together, Susan and Andrew Uranowski have been running the Concordia Pops for 33 seasons performing for senior citizens across Durham Region.


By Jessica Verge
The Oshawa Express


For Susan Uranowski, it all began when she picked up the flute in a high school music
class. Growing up in Oshawa as one of five children, her parents couldn’t afford music lessons. But, as a student at Donovan CVI, Susan realized her future lifelong passion. The Whitby resident says, “I felt very fortunate” of those high school music classes, which provided her with lessons she couldn’t have received otherwise.

But what was once the teenager’s artistic outlet has become a major focus in Susan’s life. She and her husband, Andrew Uranowski, are the driving force behind the Concordia Pops Orchestra, which gives amateur musicians the chance to showcase their skills for seniors who wouldn’t normally be able to attend such performances. The Concordia Pops plays a major role in Susan’s past.

As a high school flutist in 1973, she answered an ad for musicians to join a new group established by a former member of the Oshawa Durham Symphony Orchestra. Unlike the ODSO, a professional symphony, the Concordia Pops sought to provide amateur musicians with the chance to play orchestral music. Before moving to the U.S., Susan, a nurse, played with the group for several years.

Meantime, Andrew joined as a clarinet player and took over as conductor within a year. When she returned to Durham Region, Susan rejoined the group, where the two met and fell in love. Almost 30 years later, Andrew, a recently retired music teacher at Anderson CVI in Whitby, has transformed the Concordia Pops into a volunteer, non-profit organization.

It consists of 25 amateur musicians from all walks of life—from elementary students to engineers to 80-year-olds—who tour nursing homes and retirement residences to bring classical music to an audience that can’t easily attend a public concert.“Music is something that is very important to people and should be important throughout their whole life,” says Andrew. And the benefits of the concerts to the audience are easy to see.

“We get such a warm welcome from the seniors,” says Susan. The group plays 10 to 12 concerts per year, entertaining seniors with a mix of classic orchestral pieces to nostalgic 30s and 40s tunes to more current music. Susan and Andrew’s daughter Kristina, a professional
singer, has also joined the group on several occasions to share her vocals with the orchestra.
But they’re not the only family to get involved.
 

Susan says the Concordia Pops currently has around five families—parents and children—playing in the orchestra. She believes the orchestra is a valuable outlet for young people, allowing them the chance to give something back to the community while gaining a better understanding of seniors. Because of its community service, high school students often join the Pops to gain their required volunteer hours, but Susan says it’s common to see them stay on long after they’ve accumulated their hours.

And it’s also a way for them to improve their skills.“We have a lot of up-and-coming talent,” she says, pointing out their oboe player, an 11th grader. But whether a musician is eight or 80, the Concordia Pops is willing to listen. The group generally auditions new members (who must be able to read music) in September and after Christmas. For more information, call 905-668-5679 or email concordiapops@rogers.com.

 
     
     

 

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