Rock violinist in free concert to benefit Youth Symphony Festival

Rock violinist Aaron Meyer will perform in a 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 concert to benefit the Oregon Coast Youth Symphony Festival. The free concert is at Atonement Lutheran Church in Newport. (Courtesy photo)

To address cutbacks in music education in public schools across the state, local classical music lovers have come together to foster the next generation of concertgoers. One result of that effort is the Oregon Coast Youth Symphony Festival, which will benefit from a free concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 at Atonement Lutheran Church.

The concert, featuring rock violinist Aaron Meyer and pianist Jean-Pierre Garau, will aid the Youth Symphony Festival, a Newport-based organization now in its fourth year that brings professional orchestra conductors to work with young musicians three times a year.

Marian Brown, a member of the Worship and Music Committee at Atonement Lutheran, said her church planned to bring Meyer to Newport for a free concert, and thought his appearance would be particularly enjoyed by young musicians.

“Whenever we do something that is open to the public, such as a concert, we try to have a group be the recipient of any free will offering that we receive,” she said. “We thought of having the Youth Symphony Festival be the recipient for this concert, and contacted (festival board chairman) Michael Dalton, who agreed.

“We do not charge for any of our concerts — we only have a free will offering,” Brown said. She noted that a classical trio comes from Portland several times a year to perform free at the church, and any money raised from those events goes to Lincoln County Food Share.

Brown, who said her church is a “great venue with great acoustics,” is excited about having Meyer perform. She and Meyer have a mutual friend who suggested he might agree to an appearance in Newport, and he accepted Brown’s invitation.

Meyer’s music blends originals with cutting-edge arrangements of classics and takes inspiration from his world travels. He began playing violin at age 5 and at age 11, he soloed with the Philadelphia Orchestra; he was an original band member of Pink Martini.

His music ranges from a rendition of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” to the Beatles’ “Let it Be.” His latest album, his ninth, features Meyer’s nine-piece band performing instrumental versions of classic rock tunes such as “Hotel California” and “Sultans of Swing.”

Sunday’s free concert will begin with a performance by the North Salem High School string ensemble, directed by Larry Garrett and performing Mozart’s String Quartet No. 4 in C, K.157, 1st Movement Allegro.

Meyer and Garau will follow with their arrangements of popular tunes and a second set of Meyer’s renditions of holiday music.

The Youth Symphony Festival has grown since its inception in 2016 to offer three annual events — a four-day festival for six high school string orchestras, a winter concert series featuring three high school string quartets and three professional quartets, and a student composers’ symposium for six high school students, all free.

The festival takes place April 23-26, 2020 and includes string orchestra workshops, clinics and performances. The winter concert series takes place Jan. 11, Feb. 15 and March 7, 2020. And new this year, the high school composers’ symposium will be held in connection with the festival in April.

Sunday’s benefit concert is at 2 p.m. at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2315 North Coast Highway in Newport and will last about two hours. Lemonade and homemade cookies will be served at intermission.

Donations are welcome at the door and will go toward the general operating costs of the festival (see related story).

“I think the audience will love it,” Brown said of Sunday’s free concert.

For more information, visit, email [email protected] or call Michael Dalton at 541-992-1929.