Our Mission

Bringing Music To Our Community

The purpose of the GHPCO is to bring quality music to our community; to serve the skilled amateur musicians of the region by providing performance opportunities; and to develop enthusiasm and love of music for the enrichment of the cultural environment of the South Puget Sound.

“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” Keith Richards


Matthew Underwood was destined to be a conductor. (No, he doesn’t ride a lot of trains – yet.) The story goes that as soon as he was old enough to stand, he would wave his arms and “direct” the radio. In junior high, he was given an opportunity to direct a real orchestra and the rest, as they say, is history. It was that moment, in eighth grade, that he decided that he would be a music educator. (Thanks, Vern Hayes!)

With that focus, he launched himself into the University of Washington (a couple of times) and in the process earned his B.A., B.M. and M.A. in music education. He has studied privately on the viola with Eileen Swanson (Northwest Chamber Orchestra), Paul Colletti (world renowned violist) and not Milton Katims (founder of the Seattle Symphony). By the way, that’s kind of a funny story.

Matthew began his teaching career as the instrumental music director at Charles Wright Academy and currently teaches string orchestra at Meeker Middle School and Stadium High School (The Castle) in the Tacoma Public Schools. In addition, he is currently the director of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra. He is also sought as an adjudicator for both solo and large ensemble contests.

He has been the Executive Director and conductor of the Gig Harbor Peninsula Civic Orchestra since its inception in 2004. His leadership continues to expand the orchestra both in size and in the scope of its literature. He also just really likes making music with the members of this orchestra.

“The man who leads the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”  James Crook


Violin I

Heather De Pree* 

Shaaron Droke

Brianna Howland

Nancy Poppe

Wendy Rawlings*

Holly Turley

Erica Palmer

Stephanie Cain


Violin II

Mimi Fielding

Shirley Herridge

Becky Johnson

Brenda McCormick*

Betty Moore

Tim Olson

Teresa Orris

Jonathan Stanley

Patrick Williams

Sarah Cox

Mariam Sholtz**


Ben Beers

Bri Mears

Clara Binnington

Candace Dautel

Lauren Luedeke


Rebecca Floyd

Keira Merwine

Nancy Perillo

Olivia McKie

String Bass

Bri Mears

Jeff Oeterson


Mona Willis*


Dee Dee Babich

Pat Constantino

Mona Willis


Lora Duncan

English Horn



Gary McCabe*

Corey Berman



French Horn

Victoria King

Jane Mouatassim


Lew Asmussen

Stephen Stewart


Paul Bogotaj

Laura Bundren

Jen Cohen***




Sonja Johnson

Bob Koehnke, Jr.

Kris Underwood


Bob Koehnke, Jr.





*Board Member




The GHPCO is a community of people who love to play music together. The music covers a wide range of styles and forms, from the three B’s (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) with Mozart and Dvorak, to more contemporary pieces – some jazz, some popular and some show tunes – to more recent “classical” composers who deserve to be heard in concert. Matthew Underwood shares his love of music with the orchestra and its audiences, revealing knowledge, curiosity and what some would call humor. 

We welcome players who want to join us. Our musical backgrounds are varied and our love of playing is deep. We rehearse at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor on Thursday evenings.

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