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Rogue Valley musicians shine in OLLI’s spring class schedule

Imagine a live music series where each week one of the area’s top experts presents a rare, insider’s look at current music topics for your enjoyment. 

That’s the idea behind "Spotlight on the SOU Music Faculty," a unique, seven-week class offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Southern Oregon University. Classes begin at 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 3, and continue once a week through May 22. Registration closes Friday, March 13, but there a late registration period for unfilled classes opens March 30. 

“I felt that the public had no idea how talented the music faculty is,” says Peggy Evans, creator and mastermind of the series. 

Presented in SOU’s 436-seat Music Recital Hall, the class features a different faculty member each week. Presenters are given carte blanche to discuss, perform or explore whatever aspect of music is of compelling interest to them, personally and professionally. 

“In the past we've had faculty talk about their research interests, we’ve had students and student ensembles play, we’ve had demonstrations of various instruments,” Evans says. 

This spring’s music faculty presenters include Terry Longshore, Paul French, Cindy Hutton, Rhett Bender, Alexander Tutunov, David Humphrey and Peggy Evans. “I thought this would be a good way to introduce the individual faculty members and what they do.” 

A graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Evans was a music faculty member at Southern Oregon University from 1981 through 2007. 

Today she serves as Professor of Music Emerita at SOU, and Director of Music at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Medford, where she coordinates the yearly Music at St. Mark's concert series. She also serves as Dean of the Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. 

“I still do a little teaching, of any organ students there might be,” Evans says. “And I've also been involved with OLLI for quite a few years.” 

“It's been an interesting process to teach at OLLI, because OLLI students are a diverse group. Some have little or no music background, while others have quite a bit. The challenge is to find a happy medium that keeps all students interested and engaged." 

"Spotlight on the SOU Music Faculty" is just one of more than 85 courses available during OLLI’s upcoming Spring 2015 term. A membership fee of just $75 for the quarter lets members select this music series and/or an unlimited number of other courses (space permitting). There is no “per course” charge. 

Learning is a pleasure at OLLI because there are no tests to take, no papers to write, and no grades to stress over. The range of courses offered is truly impressive, and includes topics in the Arts; Health; History and Social Sciences; Language and Literature; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; Movement; Personal Exploration, as well as Activity and Skill courses.

OLLI membership fees are kept low through member donations and the generosity of the Bernard Osher Foundation. There is no official age restriction on membership, but the program is geared towards those aged 50-plus. 

For more information about OLLI, including a complete list of the courses offered this spring, visit www.sou.edu/olli or call 541-552-6048.

Email your Community Contributor column of 500 to 600 words to betling@dailytidings.com. Questions? Call 541-631-1313.