The Odessa Record -

US Bank awards grant to Opera House Society


--Photo courtesy of Ed Haugan.

Billie Herron, Summer Clark and Kelli Tanke hold the donation check from US Bank for the Harrington Opera House Society.

The US Bank recently awarded the Harrington Opera House Society a $1,000 grant to support The Art Room's music and art education programs. In addition to becoming a regional venue for a variety of entertainment events, from music concerts to topical presentations, as well as for private activities such as weddings and meetings, the Society also provides music and art education for area residents.

In her fourth year as piano teacher for the HOHS, Heather Safe travels from Sprague to give weekly music lessons for youth and adults during the school year in The Art Room of the opera house. Heather, who has a Master of Music degree in piano pedagogy and teaches classical, sacred and beginning methods, currently has three students in the program and has room for one more student in her Monday afternoon sessions. Besides the excellent instruction, the students are enjoying the quality and tone of the Yamaha piano recently loaned to The Art Room by Paul and Lorraine Gilliland. In warmer weather, students are rewarded with special opportunities to play the 7'1" Boston Designed by Steinway grand piano upstairs on the stage of the auditorium. The students recently shared their accomplishments by performing mostly holiday selections at the Davenport Retirement Village on December 10.

Free art activities are also provided for you grand piano th and adults in The Art Room in the same time-frame as the piano lessons, which currently are held Mondays from 2 to 6 p.m. Connie King is providing the instruction. She holds a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts education for junior and senior high school students from WSU with an Elementary Education Endorsement from South Oregon College. She retired to Harrington after 24 years of teaching K -12 students in Washington, Oregon and Louisiana. Often students will work on an art project before or after their lesson, or a family member will receive art instruction while piano lessons proceed in a screened portion of the room. There is room for more art students, ages five through adult and room for one more piano student. The Society is also looking for instructors of other musical instruments to join The Art Room staff.

The venue of the historic 1904 Harrington Opera House and Bank Block had a busy fall including the Gala Celebration of the elevator installation and acquisition of the 7'1" Boston Designed by Steinway grand piano, rental by the Harrington Church of the Nazarene for two gospel-bluegrass concerts, The Needhams on September 22 and the Parks Family and the Dion Family on December 9, rental for a wedding ceremony, a concert by composer and pianist John Nilsen and Scott Kirby's narrated movie concert. In addition, there were several rummage fundraising events, and Santa paid a visit on December 3.

Plans for 2017 include the Society's annual meeting in The Art Room on Monday, January 9, only two days shy of the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Harrington Opera House Society on January 11, 1992. Performers booked so far for 2017 include an April 7 concert by Dr. Kevin Hekmatpanah on cello, featuring Russian masters, and Heidi Muller, songwriter and contemporary folk musician, on April 29. Details are still being finalized for a possible Celtic evening in June with Bronagaene Griffin, fiddle, Johnny B. Connolly, accordion, and Cary Novotny, guitar-vocals. The Harrington Church of the Nazarene is also bringing The Needhams back on the Friday of the Harrington Fall Festival, September 22, 2017.

Thanks to grants and the generous support of many legislators, funding organizations and private individuals, a great deal has been accomplished, especially some of the more visible efforts in the last two years. There are still many ongoing and future rehabilitation projects and event underwriting to be funded and supported by volunteers and those willing to endorse the mission of this rehabilitated historic building as a regional cultural and events venue.

New members are always welcome. The Harrington Opera House Society is a 501(C)(3) organization, so contributions may be tax deductible. For questions about The Art Room programs, performing, presenting or teaching at the opera house, attending events, renting the venue and more, contact Linda Wagner, the Society's secretary at 509-253-4719, via email at or visit


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