Three siblings, triplets who are juniors at Oakwood High School, are this year’s organizers for the 19th annual Giving Strings Concert on Satuday.
Founded by former Oakwood students Colleen and Julia Judge, the free outdoor concert features musicians of all ages and skill levels and has grown each year.
“The focus of the beneficiaries of the concert through the years has been local charities that make a difference in the lives of children,” said the founders’ mother, Colleen Judge. “Many musicians were children when the concert began and are still performing as adults.”
After Colleen and Julia graduated, Clara and Ingrid Hofeldt took over the concert program. And, six years ago, the Powers family became organizers.
Eric Powers, who was in second grade when he participated in the first concert, is now a coordinator with two of his siblings.
“The first year, there was only a handful of musicians, but in the past few years, we’ve been getting 100-plus in the orchestra,” Eric Powers said. “Many area musicians are aware of the concert and return each year, and as word spreads we continue to get more participants.”
Now juniors, Eric’s brother Greg began playing viola in the concert a year after Eric, and their sister, Regina, also plays viola in the concerts. An older brother, Will, had played, but is now in college.
“This year, Regina’s taken on a more organizational role,” Eric said. “The concert’s free, but every year the organizers pick a charity to receive donations from the concert and a silent auction. To date, Giving Strings has raised more than $55,000 for local children’s charities.”
“The Powers family has done a beautiful job carrying on the legacy, as did the Hofeldts,” said Colleen Judge. “And it couldn’t have happened without the support of the City of Oakwood, its residents and a special community of musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the region.”
Although the program’s organized and run by Oakwood students, Eric noted that “a lot of high school students from other schools – Kettering, Centerville, Dayton – and area community members participate and volunteer.”
This year, the Powerses selected as charity recipient Warm Hugs, an organization that sends blankets to Hispanic children in the Dayton area and in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where there is a need.
“We choose charities that are local and aimed at helping kids, since we’re a kid-organized event,” Eric said.
“We chose Warm Hugs because the girls who started it attend Oakwood schools, and their charity does great work – there are many Hispanic children in Dayton, and now there’s so much in the news about children stuck at the borders with immigration issues. The girls who started Warm Hugs are in Regina’s Spanish class, and their issue is a good one, tied into our kids’ charity idea, and has an Oakwood connection.”
The Giving Strings Orchestra has become nationally recognized, and this year, Dr. Patrick Reynolds, assistant conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, will conduct the all-volunteer orchestra.
“This year’s concert, a program of classics to pops, will feature Oakwood resident Jimmy Leach on the trumpet, playing the music of Hovhannes and Christian Berg,” said Eric. Leach, who teaches at the University of Dayton and performs with the UD Brass Quintet and the UD Jazztet. His wife, Julia Randel, chairs the UD music department.
The concert will be held in the 200 block of Ridgewood Ave. in Oakwood, beginning at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11.
“Audience members should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets,” Eric said. “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at 33 W. Dixon Ave., will be the alternate rain location.
“All are invited to attend the free concert, which is a very fun and casual event held in a block party format.”