Summerville Orchestra

The Summerville Orchestra

Naomi Nimmo, the executive director of the Summerville Orchestra, told me that it is the only orchestra in the United States that plays both classical and pops music at every concert and is already sold out.

The first two concerts of the season will still be performed at Summerville Baptist Church at 417 Central Avenue in Summerville.

By the third concert in February next year, the hope is to be in the orchestra’s new venue at the Summers Corner Performing Arts Center within the Rollings Middle School for the Arts at 318 Gnarly Oak Lane in Summerville.

Members of the orchestra rehearse at Allston Middle School. Opening night will be on Oct. 4 with the program, “Música Latina,” focusing on Latin music. Music Director Wojciech Milewski is entering his fourth season. The other four concerts this year are “Suite Memories” Nov. 15-16, “That’s Amoré” Feb. 14-15, “Viva Voce” April 3-4 and the finale, “American Odyssey” May 15-16.

The holiday concert will take place on Dec. 20.

Regan: How did you choose Latin music as the season opening theme?

Milewski: The theme is one bursting with energy. We really wanted to make this season one to remember and are showcasing so many new things, that the idea of having an incredibly energetic opening concert was a necessity! We had a lot of fun putting it together, blending some older pieces and some new ones. One of these older pieces is probably making some sort of regional debut, “Gottschalk’s Symphony No. 1,” isn’t well known, but it’s the first time a samba was ever used in an orchestral piece. How could you NOT do a piece like that?

R: Tell us about the new venue.

M: The seating capacity at the Summers Corner Performing Arts Center is 1,010 and this new venue is going to be quite exciting when it opens. It expands our current seating by about 250 seats a night, allowing us to serve 500 more patrons per concert weekend.

There are two levels, some box seats, and even a pit in case we ever need one.

Since it was designed as a space to house theatrical productions, there is ample room on stage, and it is going to allow us to fit everyone on stage in a really comfortable way as well.

I haven’t been able to test the acoustical qualities since the space is still being worked on, but I’ve been assured it’s going to be something we can be proud of, so I’m excited to see it in action.

R: Is there a common thread to the musical themes performed this year?

M: Each concert features something new we haven’t done or haven’t been able to do before. Our November concert features a huge collaboration with many various programs in Dorchster School District 2, including visual art, music, dance and English departments.

After the new year, we will be doing a romantic theme in February featuring some new movie soundtracks. In April, we collaborate with the CSU choirs for the time.

Collaborating with choirs is essential for orchestras and this is going to be great for everyone. Finally, our May program is about “journeys.”

Really, it encapsulates our whole season with the new performance space and our continuous journey of growing and expanding as an organization.

I’m also really excited about that concert since I will be playing Rhapsody in Blue with the orchestra! A rare treat for me and I’m sure it’s going to be great fun!

R: As you have the various chamber groups of a) Summerville Flute Choir, b) Quintessential Strings; c) Summerville Winds; and d) So Jazz, do you plan to have more concerts with an emphasis on each one, etc.?

M: We’ve added many new orchestra members and our auditions have been quite successful. We added seven to eight string players, a new tuba player, and have received continuous interest from other community members to join the group.

It’s extremely rewarding and satisfying to see this group continue to grow every single season. As we grow, we get better, which only means better things for our orchestra and the community.

I’m always humbled and so proud to have such an amazing ensemble to work with. The Flute Choir continues to perform around town, SO Jazzy recently opened our Encore Series season with a performance in August, and our Wind Quintet is looking to get going here in a bit as well. It’s a busy schedule!

R: What’s planned for: 1) “Music Chats with Wojciech” events on every third Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Summerville Branch of the Dorchester County Library; 2) your Encore Series (occasional quartet groupings) at Coastal Coffee Roasters; and 3) Your Third Thursday Open House at your office? Orchestra auditions on Jan. 8?

M: This season’s Music Chats are going to be more interactive and contemporary than ever. We are slightly tweaking them to make sure they are energetic, interactive, and fun for all.

Our last one, the Latin Grooves program, featured our percussionist Lillian Garcia, and the whole audience learned how to play Latin instruments and rhythms the whole time.

It was so fun and I can’t wait to have more of these this season. We are going to learn about new instruments and showcase some new music styles. Fun for the whole family.

We are playing Third Thursdays at Century 21, where our office is located. Each month features different musicians from the orchestra and there’s always something new.

R: What else would you like to convey about the orchestra to the Summerville community?

M: This orchestra is truly special. Whether you are an audience member, a volunteer, or a musician, this group could not have grown this much without your help.

It is so rewarding to see a community and orchestra grow so much together and to have such an incredible energy surrounding every concert and performance. This year is reflective of that and we are excited.

I want to thank the entire community for your support and hope you continue to join us and come be a part of the magic!

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Send email to