The CGOA provides exceptional performing arts for the cultural enrichment, learning,
engagement and enjoyment of audiences and participants.
The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association is the non-profit sponsor of several performing ensembles in the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon. Current ensembles include the Sinfonietta Orchestra, Voci Choir, Jazz Collective Big Band, Stages Theatre, The Hood River String Quartet, and the Gorge Youth Chorus.
In its nearly 40 year history, the SINFONIETTA has brought hundreds of concerts to thousands of local audience members. Since 2005 (when CGOA was founded), the orchestra has embarked on a program of growth, increasingly high standards of performance, and exceptional, innovative programming, including world premieres and collaborations with local, regional, and nationally recognized artists, including Storm Large, the Vienna Boys Choir, David Wilcox, Stephen Seifert, Blair Tindall and Aaron Meyer.
The Sinfonietta is one of the premiere amateur performing ensembles in Oregon. It was founded in 1979 by violinist Dorothy McCormick, who directed the "Mid-Columbia Sinfonietta" until her death in 2004. The orchestra was then a member of the Portland Chamber Music Society. Before Ms. McCormick started the Sinfonietta, there was an amateur orchestra in Hood River conducted by Boris Sirpo. During the 1930s and 40s, it was Maestro Sirpo's dream to turn Hood River into a musical mecca. Sirpo was a noted Portland musician and several current Sinfonietta musicians had parents or grandparents who played under his direction.
Over the past several years, the VOCI CHOIR has grown in size and ambition, presenting concerts of world music, great choral masterpieces, and several first performances. In past seasons, the choir combined with the Sinfonietta for several, sold-out performances of Mozart's REQUIEM and Beethoven's 9th SYMPHONY. The choir has presented programs of Renaissance music, sacred music from around the globe, and sung with the Jazz Collective and loop ninja Tony Smiley.
In 2015, CGOA added the JAZZ COLLECTIVE BIG BAND, a high-energy ensemble playing some of the best classic and contemporary arrangements for large ensemble. In 2016, CGOA added STAGES, a theatre ensemble that performs a wide range of musical theatre and nonmusical plays.
The CGOA YOUTH CHOIR has been on hiatus for a few years but is returning under the direction of Corin Parker.
CGOA concerts are ticketed and are usually held in the beautiful Wy'east Middle School Performing Arts Center in Odell, Oregon, the historic auditorium at Hood River Middle School and the newly refurbished Bingen Theater, as well as other locations in The Dalles, Stevenson and around the Gorge.
In 2017-18, CGOA received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, the James F and Marion L Miller Foundation, and Lagunitas.
CGOA Conductor and music director Mark Steighner taught choral and instrumental music in Hood River schools from 1979-2015. Mr. Steighner has conducted the world premiere of over two dozen commissioned works by such
composers as Alan Hovhaness, John Cage, Ethan Sperry, David Dickau, and Ben Allaway. In 2015, Mr Steighner was named Outstanding Music Educator of the year by the Oregon Music educator's association.
As a composer, Mr Steighner has written pieces for choir, orchestra, and band, including two concerti for mountain dulcimer, timpani, tuba, and trombone. He has directed over 55 musicals, including several west coast first performances, and written over a dozen musicals. In addition to his duties with the CGOA, Mr Steighner teaches music at Columbia Gorge Community College, and is the President of the Performing Arts Initiative, a nonprofit with the goal of building a new performing arts center in the Gorge.
Our Artistic Director, Mark Steighner
CGOA BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2019-2020
Hugh Amick, President
Linda Gleeson, Treasurer
Fran Finney, Secretary
Kathryn McElwee, Office Administrator
Nancy Merz Coral Hurley Polson
Sally Goeke Michele Firsching Luke Firsching
Elaine Thompson Lori Russell Ed Price
Jim Yue Mike Hendricks Erica Roulier
Corin Parker, Education Coordinator, Youth Choir director
Mark Steighner, Artistic Director, Conductor