Winter on the Oregon Coast draws its share of storm watchers, whale watchers and beachcombers hoping to spot treasures uncovered by pounding surf. But such activities are tough to do at night, no matter how turbo-charged your binoculars are.

This year’s Winterfest, set for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16 at Salishan Resort, just be the perfect evening alternative.

Produced by the Studio to School project and Music is Instrumental, the two-day fund-raiser aims to keep music education alive and well in Lincoln City, with a little help from some world-class musicians.

Tickling the ivories on Friday night will be internationally renowned pianist Mei-Ting Sun. Currently on the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music in London, the award-winning musician began his career at the 1986 Spring of Shanghai Festival at the age of five. He now plays for audiences across the globe — with Lincoln City frequently on his itinerary.

On tap Saturday night is Portland-based Ural Thomas and the Pain, a band formed by Thomas and drummer/DJ Scott Magee, which includes notable musicians from the jazz and blues scenes. Thomas, a soul singer with a track record that includes gigs at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater, has performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and James Brown. In the 1960s and ’70s, he released singles such as “Can You Dig It.” Now, nearing age 80, and a 2018 inductee into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, Thomas has released a new classic soul record, “The Right Time,” to critical acclaim.

Saturday’s fundraiser will offer delectable hors d’oeuvres and feature silent and live auctions. Up for grabs will be assorted local and regional treasures such as local dining baskets, prized artwork and sculpture, spa treatments, $100 restaurant gift certificates, hand-selected wines, dinner for eight in a private home, a week’s stay in a three-bedroom condo at Eagle Crest, and more.

Proceeds from both concerts will go toward the purchase and refurbishment of musical instruments. This will go a long way in supporting efforts to ensure all Lincoln City students have continued access to music education in schools.

A newly formed nonprofit, Music is Instrumental was created to pick up where the Studio to School project leaves off, once its five-year Oregon Community Foundation grant runs out in June.

As a result of the grant, each school in Lincoln City now has a full-time music teacher and a strong music curriculum from K-12. In fact, due to a strong correlation between music education and elevated academic scores at the end of the first year of the grant, a full year of music education is now required of all sixth-grade students. And Music is Instrumental is on a mission to provide music education to all 1,125 students in Lincoln City schools — and beyond.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for us as we position this new nonprofit to continue to bring music and music education to our community’s youth,” said Music is Instrumental Board Chair Mark Sanders. “Testing scores since the 2014 inception of the Studio to School program have increased for math, reading and ESL, and attendance and graduation rates are up.”

Sanders adds that among the many benefits derived from this program are increased self-esteem among students, and the enhanced ability for them to work as a group.

In addition to supporting music in the schools, the fundraiser is also designed to boost winter tourism to the Oregon Coast over the Valentine’s Day weekend, assisted by a marketing grant from Explore Lincoln City.

So, if you want to listen to a world-class pianist, or dance the night away to some Oregon-grown soul, it’s best not to lollygag. Last year’s event was sold out, and attendance for this year’s concerts is expected to be high.

Tickets are $35 for Friday’s concert, and $95 for the Saturday concert and fundraiser. Doors open at 7 pm on Friday, Feb. 15, and 4:30 pm on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Salishan Resort, located three miles south of Lincoln City.

For tickets, go to musicisinstrumental.net or call 541-669-1868.

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