Musical magnets

Published 8:14 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Valerie and David Rumpf are starting a community orchestra in Niles.

A pair of Niles business owners have big dreams for their little area of southwest Michigan.

David and Valerie Rumpf, who teach music at The Music Academies on North Third Street, want to form a community orchestra that will, as David puts it, “make Niles a musical magnet.” All they need is more participants.

“I would love for Niles to have an orchestra in the way that South Bend has a symphony it is known for,” Valerie said. “Why can’t Niles have that, too?”

The Rumpfs are looking for people who love playing music. They don’t have to be professionals or even have to be playing now. They just have to be part of the surrounding communities and willing to be part of something special.

“There is nothing like playing in an orchestra,” David said. “Solo is fine, but playing together with other people toward a common purpose — when you get done, you always feel better.”

Niles has had a small, somewhat underground, orchestra playing at the New Apostolic Church for several years. The Rumpfs, who attend the church, would play in it with others for various church services.

Several years ago, Valerie said, a music student of hers said she wanted to play in a group. Valerie invited the girl to play with the church orchestra.

“So she came and brought a friend. Then her friend brought another friend and so on. That’s when we knew there was a need for it,” Valerie said.

There are 26 people in the orchestra, which the Rumpfs call the Niles Area Community Orchestra. They meet every other Sunday at the church. Some are church members, but many are just musicians from the community. Some are professionals, while others are amateurs.

“The really neat part is we have a great mix of people,” Valerie said. “The professionals like that, too. They enjoy helping some of the others improve.”

The orchestra put on its first concert this past Christmas holiday. There are plans for another concert in May.

Valerie is a conductor, having graduated with a master’s degree in musical composition from Indiana University. She also plays the piano and many other instruments. Her husband specializes in the viola but has been playing various string instruments most of his life.

Both wish to share their love of music with others.

“To me, music is life. When I can play or I can teach someone to play something, it is just a feeling that is hard to explain,” Valerie said. “You feel younger and more energetic and like nothing can get you down.”

The Rumpfs say the orchestra is in need of several string-instrument players, percussionists, wind players and brass players.

Those interested in joining can contact the Rumpfs at The Music Academies at (269) 362-5780. More information is available on The Music Academies Facebook site.