GLCO Press Releases

Shared from the 6/15/2021 Petoskey News-Review eEdition

She’s a natural

Charlevoix 8th-grader performs with Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra

Charlevoix resident Ryan Tall was recently selected as one of five students to play with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra after only playing the viola for three years. COURTESY PHOTO
CHARLEVOIX — Charlevoix resident and eighth grader Ryan Tall recently had the opportunity to perform with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra after only playing her instrument for three years. Tall, who is also gifted with perfect pitch, only really picked up her instrument — the viola — about three years ago but has already proved she can perform as a professional having just performed on stage with the orchestra in its recent concert at the John M. Hall Auditorium in Bay View. However, Tall said that her path to the viola was a happy accident. “I was supposed to play the violin but my mom accidentally signed me up for the viola,” she said. “I fell in love with it though and the sound of it as well as the ease of playing it. It all really just came natural to me.” Tall played a number of instruments prior to the viola, including the violin and bass, before finding a musical home with her now-main instrument. “I don’t know what made me stick to the viola but I know, for me, the instrument was different than anything else I had played before. I felt something different when I played it that I didn’t feel with any other instrument,” she said. Autumn Tall — Ryan’s mother — says she’s not entirely sure where her daughter’s musical ability comes from. The family is somewhat musical but not on the same level as Ryan.

“The rest of us have some musical talent but there’s only one other family member of ours that has perfect pitch,” said Autumn Tall.

“Ryan is completely on another level,” she said.

Tall was offered the opportunity to perform in Bay View through her youth orchestra as most of the instructors are members of the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.

Tall says it’s all pretty funny how fast she moved up and that she found herself on stage with the professional ensemble.

“I only started playing the viola three years ago and at first it was really though for me. We were playing in a clef I wasn’t familiar with but after about two weeks I caught on,” she said.

“It got really easy actually and I moved up really quickly and was put in the youth orchestra which is how I was invited to play. I’m not entirely sure how it all happened but I’m so thankful it did.”

It’s not without a surprise though that Tall progressed so fast as she spends a lot of her time practicing.

Tall currently attends The Lighthouse Connections Academy, a fully online public school, which allows her the flexibility to maintain her coursework while participating in her music studies and performances.

“It really works for her,” said mother Autumn Tall.

“She can use some of her practice time to go towards math. There are certain ways she can use her rehearsal and practice times like that and it really helps her all around,” she said.”

Tall said that her time on stage was amazing and that it only strengthened her desire to study and perform the viola.

She loved being on stage and surrounding herself with like-minded people and performers who get to put on shows around Northern Michigan and beyond.

“I don’t know how to describe it but there was something so special about getting to play with all of these people and to be able to sit on stage and perform,” she said.

“It was really beautiful and special and I hope I get to perform with them again.”

However, even though Tall has her eyes set on performing as much as she can, Tall is interested in pursuing other things as she moves through high school and graduates.

“I want to be a firefighter but I definitely want to keep improving on the viola and be able to perform professionally in a local orchestra one day,” she said.

“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to play with the orchestra and to be able to do. that all the time and continually learn and perform would be so amazing.”

Shared from the 6/12/2021 Petoskey News-Review eEdition


Helen Hanchin (center) a 19-year-old, multiple award-winning flautist from Charlevoix, performs during the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra’s “Americana” concert June 5 at Hall Auditorium in Bay View. The concert included classics by Gershwin and Copland, along with world premieres by local composers and young Americans. Hanchin was featured in a Mozart concerto for flute and orchestra. The orchestra, which is celebrating its 20th year, was one of 10 American orchestras to be honored by the League of American Orchestras this year, and received the opportunity for a recorded version of the “Americana” performance to be shown this week at the league’s 76th annual national conference. The orchestra’s next concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. July 20 at Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor, will feature “The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons” and showcase Canadian Brass trumpeter Brandon Ridenour. Tickets are available at or by calling (231) 487-0010. COURTESY PHOTO

Chamber orchestra grows through pandemic, announces summer programming

Sean Miller
The Petoskey News-Review
Great Lake Chamber Orchestra's Brass Quintet is pictured performing at the Charlevoix Summer Open House on June 10.

PETOSKEY — The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra has grown its staff and programming over the last year despite a world-wide pandemic that shuttered venues across the country.

The growth, according to orchestra executive director Judy Zorn, is largely thanks to its staff and board coming together through the pandemic and following through with its mission statement of educating, entertaining and inspiring.

“It was an interesting year, for sure, for everyone — and the arts was no exception. Of course in the early stages of the pandemic we were all worried about food, shelter our health and our essentials, but what do you do everyday? You listen to music,” she said.

Zorn took that to heart and, with a unified board of directors and her staff, developed programming that kept the orchestra alive and growing over the last year.

The orchestra developed three online programs since March of 2020 that brought pre-recorded concerts to online audiences, small in-person concerts around the area as well as its “Tuesday Talks” series which was an online educational series that ran every week for about a year.

“We really stayed in front of our constituents and the community at large,” said Zorn.

“We did what we could and brought snippets of the orchestra around in our smaller performances never fully knowing, along with the rest of the world, when we were going to open back up again and be allowed to have our regular programming again,” she said.

Zorn recently took time to reflect over the last year and said that at times it felt like the orchestra wasn’t doing anything, but that really wasn’t the case.

“It really felt like the curtain was down and there were no performances but that’s really far from the truth,” she said.

The orchestra was also able to fulfill its educational programming and expand some of its offerings, including both online and in-person shows called Little Bay Live.

Little Bay concerts were started as a way to introduce people to music through smaller ensembles the orchestra has put together, with 16 different performances scheduled through this summer. The first show was at the beginning of June featuring a brass quintet.

The whole series features performances all across Northern Michigan with everything ranging from Celtic fiddle and violin to performances on the oboe, viola, violin, piano and more.

“It’s become a really important part of the orchestra over the pandemic and moving forward through this year,” said Zorn.

“It really allows people to see different aspects of the orchestra and see we don’t always exclusively play orchestral music. There’s really something for everyone and this allows us to be in the community more and give more people a chance to see a live performance again,” she said.

As Zorn sees it, the expansion the orchestra is experiencing is all very exciting and accompanies some other recent changes for the organization.

Externally, the orchestra kept up with and expanded its programming. Internally, the orchestra was able to hire additional staff to keep up with the ever-changing and growing environment.

“We have had some staff changes internally and that has all been so wonderful,” said Zorn.

“We were able to hire a few positions to meet the changing needs of the orchestra as we grow. It was really essential to be able to maintain all of our programming.”

The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra recently hired its new events/communications coordinator Deedee Pichard, operations manager Eric Cox and development director Pamela Decker.

“What really struck me is that this is definitely a growing organization,” said Cox.

“I have a few gigs here and there, but with this job I get to do so much and learn about the operations of the orchestra. It’s outside my wheelhouse like I said, but I really enjoy it,” he said.

This summer the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra will present six larger shows in its 2021-2022 season, five Sunday series performances at churches across the region and its already planned 16 Little Bay Live Shows that continue through Sunday, Aug. 29.

The orchestra’s Little Bay Live Shows schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, June 10 – Charlevoix Open House
  • Tuesday, June 29 – Night of the Arts in Harbor Springs
  • Wednesday, July 7 – Boyne City Summer Series
  • Sunday, July 11 – Marina Park in Harbor Springs
  • Monday, July 19 – Perry Farm Village in Harbor Springs
  • Thursday, July 22 – Perry Hotel in Petoskey
  • Sunday, July 25 – Marina Park in Harbor Springs
  • Thursday, Aug. 5 – Reusch Jewelers in Petoskey
  • Wednesday, Aug. 11 – Concerts in the Park in Petoskey
  • Sunday, Aug. 15 – Marina Park in Harbor Springs
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17 – North Central Michigan College
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18 – Bay View
  • Sunday, Aug. 29 – Marina Park in Harbor Springs

“We are very excited for our summer programming as it is giving the orchestra opportunities to perform and play and do what they do,” said Zorn.

“It’s also bringing the orchestra out and making it visible in our community while giving access to music to everybody.”

More information about the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, it’s 2021-2022 season, upcoming Sunday Series shows and its Little Bay Live performances can be found online at

Eric Lawson

Assistant Concertmaster

Violinist, violist, conductor and professor Dr. Eric Lawson has had a varied career in performance and education. Past performances as a conductor, soloist and lecturer have taken him to Austria, Brazil, China, Germany, Romania and Scandinavia. Before returning to his home state of Michigan, he was based in North Dakota where, in addition to serving as a violin instructor at Bismarck State College, Jamestown College, and the University of Mary, he was also concertmaster of the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra and established the Bismarck-Mandan Youth Symphony. Other former academic appointments have included Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Central College in Pella, Iowa and the University of North Dakota where he founded the string program and the UND Chamber Orchestra.

Here in Michigan, Dr. Lawson as been very active with the Alpena Symphony Orchestra as its concertmaster, conductor and president of the board. He also performs with many other orchestras in Northern Michigan and participates in the Traverse Symphony as a first violinist, in the Gaylord Symphony as concertmaster and as assistant concertmaster in the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.

And finally, in what has been one of the most important experiences of his life outside of music, he also served almost four years as an Alpena County Commissioner, representing Ossineke and Sanborn Townships. In addition to serving as chair of the Salary and Personnel Committee, he also served on the Airport, Ambulance, District Court, Circuit Court Management and Jail Committees. He also represented Alpena County in Gaylord with the Northern Michigan Regional Entity Substance Use Disorder Board and continues to serve on the Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Board. Dr. Lawson resides in Ossineke with his wife and two children.