El Cerrito’s New Amateur Orchestra Is Music To Our Ears

L-R: Celeste Rosen-Rooney, Lisa Guan, Ronald Gutierrez, Kathy Doan, Ronald Deans, Gary Pieroni, Jave Kane, Rosemarie Girard, Barbara Williamson, Diane Williamson, Kyle Baldwin, Suzanne Balmaceda, K~lee Kemp, Xiaorou Ruan, Michael Garcia, Piyamaporn Creel, Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch.

By Kathy Doan

One of El Cerrito’s best-kept secrets is their new musical orchestra! The El Cerrito Community Orchestra (ECCO) has helped quench the thirst of amateur musicians looking to perform in a local ensemble. The ECCO was formed in June 2019, bringing such musicians together with support from the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission.

While the players are indeed “amateurs,” it helps to remember the term’s root meaning. In Latin, amator means “lover,” which aptly describes the ECCO—a group of people who play music for the love of it.

ECCO members are as diverse as their instruments, which include strings, woodwinds, and brass. So far, the ensemble has been made up of students, retirees, and everyone in-between. Some members have not played an instrument in over 30 years while others are taking up a new one. Members gain the precious experience of performing with an ensemble while being coached by a professional conductor.

“I’m absolutely excited to conduct the El Cerrito Community Orchestra,” Kyle Baldwin, ECCO conductor, commented. “There are few opportunities for amateur musicians to play in large ensembles, and I’m delighted to be part of one of the few in the East Bay.”