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Chelsea House Orchestra sponsored to perform benefit concert (with slideshow)

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. Chelsea House Orchestra performs at the Chelsea High School football field.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Bill O’Reilly and Crystal Hayduk for the information in this story. Slideshow photos by Crystal Hayduk.)

With current health restrictions limiting public events, many outdoor activities and musical events have been canceled. Chelsea House Orchestra (CHO), Chelsea High School’s (CHS) Celtic music group, and its fans have profoundly felt the loss, since every show has been canceled since March 16.

“We had a full spring, summer, and fall season of performances lined up, but one by one, they were all canceled due to COVID-19,” said Crystal Hayduk, a parent who shares the volunteer gig master position with her husband, Don Hayduk. “The students experienced repeated disappointment with each cancellation, although they completely understood the priority on public health and safety.”

Chelsea resident Will Johnson, former president and CEO of Chelsea Hospital, wanted the community to have at least one public event this summer. He reached out to the Chelsea Senior Center (CSC) to see what options might be possible, and working with CSC’s executive director, Bill O’Reilly, they approached CHO.

With the approval of Chelsea School District administration, the Jerry Niehaus football stadium was put to use Monday evening, Aug, 10 for two special performances by CHO. Will Johnson and Diane Kurtz made a generous donation to CHO to support this and other activities; attendees were encouraged to make donations to the Chelsea Senior Center.

With restrictions in place, total attendance at each performance was limited to 100 and all wore masks and kept safe distances.

CHO parents did a great job welcoming everyone and ensuring safety. The CHO parent board members worked diligently to pull together the many pieces in only a week. The evening was memorable, especially because it gave a half-dozen CHO members of the Class of 2020 a chance to play with the group one last time. Most left this week for college or Interlochen Center for the Arts. Aidan Delwiche, the Class of 2020 CHO representative, said, “It was an amazing way to not only send off the seniors, but also to provide a safe, yet fun concert for the community. Overall, I had a great time playing and I’m grateful that we could do so thanks to the generosity of our community.”

Phillip Sylvester, CHO’s director since the 2019 retirement of the group’s founder, Jed Fritzemeier, said, “CHO was so thankful for the opportunity to perform for a public audience on Aug. 10. The concert was an experience that boosted the morale of the musicians and community members who have had a difficult summer of canceled concerts, festivals and summer opportunities. It has been a challenging time for everyone, but a final performance for the graduated seniors heading to college gave the group some much needed closure on the season. The CHS administrative team was amazing in approving this event so quickly. The CHO parent board and school district staff did a great job implementing the required social distance protocols.”

Chelsea spirit and cooperation at its best.

Connect with Chelsea House Orchestra on their Facebook page at or on the web at

The Chelsea Senior Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life and well-being for area seniors and their families. Learn more at or at

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2 thoughts on “Chelsea House Orchestra sponsored to perform benefit concert (with slideshow)”

  1. I was lucky enough to attend the 5 PM program. The work done by the staff, students, and parents was evident and appreciated. I usually try to attend all the CHO concerts and was missing that opportunity this year. As usual the program was wonderful. A special thanks to all who made it possible!

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