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Seniors with string talent find a group of their own

Posted: July 15, 2013 5:59 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2013 5:59 p.m.

Violinists, from right to left, Heli Sterner, Dave Nul and Mildred Ballace rehearse with the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Orchestra at the Del Prado Homeowners Clubhouse in Newhall on Monday. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

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Seniors who are musically minded in the Santa Clarita Valley can find plenty of activities: the Silvertone Singers, Swing Jazz Club, men’s and women’s glee clubs.

But until four years ago, there was no place for string players to go, said violin player Mildred Ballace, a founding member of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Orchestra.

That’s when the group got together under the direction of Chris Johnson, and today they can be heard practicing every Monday afternoon at the Del Prado Homeowners Clubhouse on La Glorita Circle in Newhall.

“This is an orchestra that has been together for many years,” said Bill Spilka, who has been leading the orchestra since Christmas.

“It is a group of mostly seniors” and plays mainly at senior centers.

Everyone is welcome, however. Just bring your instrument.

“We ended up with six strings,” Spilka said of the group. The orchestra has a total of 15 players; however, not every musician can attend every practice.

“Pretty consistently, we have a dozen players.”

On Monday, 10 musicians attended the practice and played songs ranging from “The Entertainer” to “The Stripper.” The orchestra features the occasional mandolin and banjo.

Practice is at 3 p.m. Mondays at 24360 La Glorita Circle in Newhall.



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