Rainbow City Orchestra and Concert Band Take the Stage for the First Time at Benaroya Hall

For the first time in Rainbow City Performing Arts' 25-year history, the Rainbow City Orchestra and the Rainbow City Concert Band performed at Benaroya Hall. Each ensemble also had a record number of performers on stage, totaling over 150 musicians. Those performers not playing in both ensembles got to watch their fellow musicians perform, including a special intermission performance from Flûtrange, Rainbow City's flute choir.

Board Chair Riley McCormack, Executive director Damien Hall, US Ambassador Roger Nyhus, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Co-founder Scott Lewis, and Artistic Director Christopher Hanson

Rainbow City is so thankful to everyone who was part of our record crowd of over 1,100 attendees! We were honored to have in attendance old friends - founding members of Rainbow City - alongside new friends, State Senator Jamie Pedersen and newly confirmed US Ambassador, Roger Nyhus. It was an honor and a privilege to play in this magnificent space, and we can't wait to return on Friday, February 2nd! We will be presenting Spectrum of Identity with our guests, STANCE.

"When I was younger, I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to play in performance halls like Benaroya Hall, let alone be a member of an orchestra as a clarinetist since there are primarily only two clarinets.

After 35 years of playing clarinet, I got to do both. I have been a part of Rainbow City Performing Arts for the past 20 years, and the concert band and orchestra made their debut at Benaroya Hall for their 25th anniversary season. I played the principal parts for orchestra. I can’t believe I got the opportunity to play Rhapsody in Blue!"

Antonio Perez (He/him), Clarinet, Section Leader

Taken in the lobby of Benaroya Hall. Performers dressed in all black with rainbow scarves lined up in rows of 4 across and 3 deep. In the front row, three performers hold clarinets and one performer holds a bass clarinet.
Clarinet section of the Rainbow City Concert Band

"I started playing clarinet in my freshman year of HS in 1977. I stopped playing clarinet back in 1982 when I was a sophomore in college when I needed to start working full-time to pay for tuition. Working full-time coupled with an hour each way commute to and from school on the NYC subway, time to continue playing, practicing, and taking lessons was an issue - so unfortunately, I stopped for a period. With school schedules and subsequent 12–14-hour workdays through my working career, that period became 41 years of not playing.

Since retiring from work in 2017, I’ve had free time but never picked up the instrument again until April of this year when I started practicing again daily and also taking weekly lessons. Finally, time wasn’t an issue! Eventually I realized it would be good to find an organization to play and grow with; after some online searches for bands, orchestras, and ensembles I found RCPA! Being a gay man, it was even better that RCPA was a primarily queer organization and would welcome a middle aged (a.k.a. - much older) person into its midst.

It’s been so exciting joining both the orchestra and concert band. It’s almost unbelievable that I’d be able to pick up something I’d started decades earlier and find a community of like-minded passionate people to continue with it. I love the feeling of community and being able to share the gift of making beautiful music. (I’m also a bit selfish - since starting with RCPA, I’ve been challenged to improve my skills and technique).

When I reached out about joining RCPA, I didn’t even plan on concerts or performances; I just wanted a group to play with. After I found out that we would do concerts, that was even more exciting! Performing on the Benaroya stage with a group of queer musicians in a supportive environment was more fulfilling than I ever imagined! The Fall 2023 concert was incredibly exciting - to be able to create music and share it with so many people was an absolute joy - in what’s considered a “sacred space” for music!!

It has been a surreal and wonderful time and I’m looking forward to growing and developing more with RCPA!"

Reggie Lewis (He/him), Clarinet

"After performing, I got to meet the founder of the organization. He commented how far a "rag-tag" group of musicians has turned into 7 ensembles, and are now here.

We touched the lives of over 900 people in our audience, showing that what we do as Rainbow City Performing Arts matters.

Thanks to the vision of all the artistic leadership, executive director, and board, we now get to call this amazing performing space home."

Jennifer Lang-Powers (all pronouns), Clarinet, Ensemble Director

Performers dressed in all black with rainbow scarves standing on a stage holding brass instruments

"One of my favorite moments at the concert was when I was talking with one of the founding members at intermission. We were marveling about how awesome it was to have come this far as an organization and tears of joy started flowing from their eyes. It was a precious moment that I will never forget."

Shelly Siegfried (she/her), Trumpet, Board Member

Photo of winds section in Rainbow City Orchestra with flute & bass clarinet to the right and trumpets on the left. Performers are dressed in all black seated in folding chairs placed on a wooden stage.
Winds in Rainbow City Orchestra

"Thank you to our Artistic Director and Conductor of the Rainbow City Orchestra, Christopher, for being such an outstanding leader for us. I feel FREEDOM and JOY in our ensemble when we make music together. As someone who is often told they are "too much" and "too extra", I highly appreciate how proud of us you are and how you encourage us to shine!

'Joy in the face of fear is an act of rebellion.'"

Kelli Taylor (she/they), Trumpet

"I want to say how much joy I’ve gotten out of playing in the orchestra. I was a music major in college but didn’t end up pursuing it as a career and hadn’t played my cello in years when I first joined. It was so wonderful to play with such a welcoming and supportive group of people. I had forgotten how much fun it is to play in an orchestra! And it’s even more wonderful to focus on music written by people who have been marginalized throughout history - I did my senior thesis on women composers, and it’s made me so happy to play music by women, by queer people, by BIPOC, etc. Being able to perform in Benaroya was just the icing on the cake!" 🙂

Kay Regovich (she/her), Cello

"I came back to playing music in my mid-40’s in Iowa after abandoning it after a painful and difficult experience as a young adult. I am now 51 and feeling very fortunate to live in a place that actually values music and live performance. I’m even more fortunate to have met people who love to play music and are just as beautifully queer as I am (or who are supportive and loving to our community).  While I expect I will perpetually have a bit imposter syndrome playing music among such talented people, I cannot say how much I enjoy it and look forward to more amazing experiences."

Peggy Douglas (she/her), Cello, Ensemble Manager

Rainbow City Orchestra on stage

"It's taken me a couple days to really put into words this VIBE I felt in the last 1-2 minutes of Rhapsody in Blue that I can only describe as an intense awareness of the group and my place in it: what everyone was playing, how my part fit into the rest, why it all mattered, and this overwhelming feeling of belonging.

When I played as a kid and into my early 20s this happened somewhat frequently, but years ago I burned out on violin trying to make a career in a hyper-competitive entertainment industry; the more time went by the more I thought I'd never feel that way again.

But, in the rush of it all coming back to me, it was so clear how connected we all are, creating something larger than ourselves to give to an audience of 1000+ people (!!) and then receiving the energy of their gratitude a few moments later. this ensemble has meant so much to me and I'm grateful for you all! <3" 

Emily Creecy (she/her), Violin, Volunteer Staff

"Friday night was such an amazing experience for me and my family! My 10-year-old who uses He/they pronouns said “Hey! Connections was my favorite part, and the composer is a They/Them like me!”. It was empowering for me as someone who came out as a lesbian later in life, to see my kids have the representation that didn’t exist for me as a gay girl in Georgia growing up. I’m so glad to have participated in this powerful organization."

Whitney Smith (She/her), Euphonium

"The night was so magical. I had at least three middle school/high school band kids come to the concert. My friend’s viola kid has been reflecting lately on all the effort she’s put into orchestra, and what that looks like after she graduates from high school in the next few years. We basically showed her the answer last night!" ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜✨✨

Brianna Carmada (she/her), Bassoon

Rainbow City Concert Band presents Connections composed and conducted by Caleb Gomes
Rainbow City Concert Band presents Connections composed and conducted by Caleb Gomes