Performers are visiting — and returning — from across the world — and with an expanded Port Angeles Symphony, they’re about to take the stage to make the music they love.
Starting from the top: Guest conductor Meena Hwang of Seoul, South Korea, will lead the orchestra in Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute.” This music, beloved since it premiered 228 years ago, will begin a night of contrasting music at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., with concert time at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.
Music lovers are also invited to the brief pre-concert chat with Port Angeles Symphony conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack at 6:40 p.m.
As always, the Symphony’s final dress rehearsal is open to the public at 10 a.m.; it’s also at the high school Performing Arts Center, with admission at $7 per person.
Tickets to the evening concert range from $15-$35 while outlets include The Joyful Noise Music Center in downtown Sequim and Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles.
Tickets are also sold at the door, and youngsters 16 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.
“I first heard Meena Hwang conduct Mozart — the opera ‘La Finta Giardeniera’ — when she was a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, where she studied with my own conducting teacher, Peter Erös,” Pasternack said.
“I recall being deeply impressed by her mastery of the style, her lyricism, and her strong rhythmic command of the orchestra.
“She is a born Mozartean,” he added.
“I am happy that she can take time from conducting at her country’s most prestigious music conservatory, the Korean National Arts University, to visit and share her talents with us in Port Angeles.”
Hwang will also conduct another Mozart piece: his Concerto for Oboe in C major featuring another guest artist, Grammy award-winning oboist Alex Klein of Calgary, Alberta.
“Alex Klein is arguably the greatest oboe player in North America, if not worldwide,” said Pasternack. Klein was a professor at the University of Washington, where Pasternack later directed the UW Orchestra and Opera.
In the hands of Klein, Hwang and the Symphony, this concerto will come alive in all its beauty and elegance, Pasternack said.
That’s the first half of Saturday’s concert. The second half is given over to the finale: Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony in D major, the “Titan.”
Pasternack, fresh from his Feb. 8 guest conducting engagement with the Banatul Filharmonia in Timisoara, Romania, will conduct this work.
“The sheer size of the ensemble required for the Mahler is larger than anything I’ve led in Port Angeles so far, with more than 80 musicians being assembled on the stage,” he said.
Tyler Benedict, the Symphony’s principal tuba player — who also happens to be director of the Sequim City Band — said the “Titan” symphony gives the big brass section a chance to shine. This section, he noted, features four trumpets, three trombones and no fewer than nine French horns.
It’s been 20 years since Benedict’s last encounter with Mahler — as a high school student with the Port Angeles Symphony under the baton of the late conductor Nico Snel.
This concert is part of the Port Angeles Symphony’s 86th season.