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The show goes on for Oshkosh’s rock ’n roll orchestra

An amazing group of young musicians isn't letting the coronavirus cancel out a decades-old summer tradition.
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - An amazing group of young musicians isn't letting the coronavirus cancel out a decades-old summer tradition.

They've found a way to keep their stringed instruments rocking.

Every summer, over the past 20 years, young musicians from elementary school to college age have banded together in a summer music program called Rock Infused Orchestra.

"Normally when you think of rock music you just think of guitars and drums right, you never think of a viola being used to play 'Live and Let Die', but that's the kind of cool stuff we like doing," says Trevor Dunlap, who's played in the orchestra since 2014.

"Every school year is just count down the days until I can play, I mean there's some fun songs where you get to do some things that you normally don't get to do with other kinds of classical music," adds Sara Minkey, a member of the orchestra since 2015.

Which is exactly why this program took off back in 2000.

"A couple of kids said I'm not going to play in the summer because I'm sick of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, I said well, let's try something different and a small group of three of my students turned into ten by the end of summer, which has now exploded to about 150," says Andrew Hutchinson, Rock Infused Orchestra Music Director.

Each orchestra member, from Green Bay to the Fox Valley to the Lakeshore, is on a mission with their instrument, whether it's a violin, viola or cello.

"Just let it rip, we talk about turning it up all the time, our groups are pre-Amp'd for the little kids, our middle group is Amp'd, and then the group with the most advanced students is called Extreme, and it does get extreme," says Hutchinson with a smile.

Instead of their normal summer rehearsal routine to gear up for a concert in August, this summer has been about zoom practices and social distancing, with no hope of performing in front of a live audience.

Instead, the group gathered at Abe Rochlin Park in Oshkosh today to record a concert that will be streamed live tonight at 7pm on the Rock Infused Orchestra Youtube channel and Facebook page.

Despite these challenging times, the students cherish this unique opportunity.

"Really being able to do what I love, making music with other people who love music just as much as I do," says Minkey.

From the sounds of it, she’s certainly right.

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