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


* denotes Board Member

Violin I

Heather De Pree* 

Stephanie Cain

Brianna Howland

Andrea Klouse

Barbara Murphy

Erica Palmer

Wendy Rawlings*

Christy Robinson

Holly Turley

Violin II

Tim Olson

Brooke Embree

Kate Everling

Mimi Fielding

Shirley Herridge

Caoilin Hoctor

Becky Johnson

Brenda McCormick

Alice Merrifield

Teresa Orris

Jonathan Stanley

Pat Williams


Ben Beers

Annette Kebsch

Larry Nyquist

Gabriel Schaar

Michael Wynkoop

Claudia Yeaman


Merrie Reardon

Keira Merwine

Rebecca Floyd*

Dave Pierik

Bella Wison

String Bass

Don Whisner


Dee Dee Babitch

Pat Constantino

Mona Willis*



Mona Willis*


Mary Lou Hunt

Chandra Morris

Lora Duncan


Tina Jordan*

Gary McCabe*

Bass Clarinet

Corey Berman


Rae Siemssen

Cheryl Stone

French Horn

Liz Fortson

Jane Mouatassim

John Rockie


Lou Asmussen

Lynne Everling

Stephen Stewart


Paul Bogotaj

Laura Bundren

Jen Cohen

Brian Gaukel


Bill Klouse


Corey Berman

Amelia Oxford

Liz Fortson (Mallets)

Sonja Johnson

Bob Koehnke, Jr.

Kris Underwood


Bob Koehnke, Jr.


Corey Berman

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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