Fairway Village group offers haven to string musicians

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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For information on joining the strings group or scheduling a performance, call 360-608-6372.

Violinist Bob Pforsich, 74, taught elementary and secondary music for 34 years in Ohio. When he moved to Vancouver's 55-plus neighborhood Fairway Village five years ago, he hoped to find other local string players who would want to play as a group.

"I put out an ad in the neighborhood newsletter about five years ago, and no one responded," Pforsich said.

Last February, he finally got his wish.

Another Fairway Village resident apparently was on the same note. Violinist Kathy Barry, 64, an instructor at Vancouver's Beacock Music and Education Center, posted a brief in the February edition of neighborhood newsletter The Villager calling on string players to gather and "bring string music to Fairway Village." About 10 people responded, and from the respondents, a core group of five string players formed.

"It's not like strings players are as common as bridge players," Pforsich said.

The group would fill a void not only in Fairway Village but also in the county at large, Barry said. The closest strings-only group is in Portland, she said.

"We didn't want to go to Portland," Barry said. "We wanted a strings group on our side."

Other string players are welcome. The group would like to grow to 16 to 20 members. Unlike Fairway Village, there are no age restrictions. Players, however, should have the skill level of someone with at least three to four years of experience. Existing members also play with mixed instrument groups, including the Vancouver Symphony, Clark College Orchestra and Sunnyside Orchestra.

"There are a lot of good players on this side of the river," Barry said. "We just want them to come out of hiding."

The group highlights talent in Fairway Village, but it also provides an outlet for two string players outside Fairway Village.

Viola player Sandy Edwards, 68, of Salmon Creek joins the group each week as does cellist Sharon Dambrosio, 63, of Vancouver's Cimarron neighborhood.

"I wanted to play with other people," Dambrosio said.

Edwards said before their group formed, Clark County offered nearly everything for musicians except a group for string players.

The group forms a quartet with one extra, another Fairway Village resident away for the summer.

"Chamber music was designed to be played in a living room," Barry said. "That's why string players like small groups and interaction."

In addition to enjoyable social and musical interaction, the rehearsals help the players keep their skills honed.

Every Tuesday night, the players flood the Fairway Village Clubhouse with the harmony of violins and cellos. During the school year, the group rehearses on Mondays. Some card players who play on the same night drift in to listen.

"There's a lot of interest," Barry said.

The group hopes to eventually perform for larger events in the neighborhood, which consists of about 1,270 residents, or outside the neighborhood.

So far, no public performances have materialized, but one possibility is playing for the neighborhood's happy hour event at the clubhouse, Barry said.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551or paris.achen@columbian.com.