In the season’s first pair of chamber concerts in Sequim and Port Angeles, harpist Elizabeth Huston and guest conductor James Ray will bring a program of Debussy, Rautavaara, Coleridge-Taylor and Haydn together this week.
The Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra is poised to play at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Lopez Ave., Port Angeles, on Friday and at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., Sequim, on Saturday.
Both performances will start at 7 p.m., with seats at $15 for adults; youngsters 16 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
Huston, who lives in Santa Clarita, a suburb of Los Angeles, is the daughter of Phil and Deborah Morgan-Ellis, longtime musicians and teachers in Sequim and Port Angeles. She’ll get to play alongside her father Phil, violist with the Port Angeles Symphony.
Huston, who studied at Western Washington University in Bellingham and finished her graduate work at Temple University in Philadelphia, now plays in a variety of orchestras across Southern California. She also plays on hip-hop recordings, and says such artists are finding acoustic instruments such as her harp make their music stand out in the crowd.
The harpist was just named executive director of Synchromy, a Los Angeles performing arts group presenting concerts of contemporary music.
For this, her first trip back to perform on the North Olympic Peninsula in many years, Huston chose two works that are far apart in chronological time but similar in their musical language: Rautavaara’s “Ballade” and Debussy’s “Two Dances.” Rautavaara, a contemporary Finnish composer, has a style similar in some ways to Debussy, who made his early 20th century audiences sit up and take notice with his impressionistic sound.
Ray chose the crowning piece of the concerts, Haydn’s 104th “London” Symphony, with its full section of woodwinds, brass and timpani together with the strings.
“I am just thrilled that we get to present these two wonderful artists,” Port Angeles Symphony Music Director Jonathan Pasternack said of Ray and Huston.
“James left an indelible mark,” he added. The longtime orchestra teacher in the Port Angeles School District, Ray has accepted a new position as music professor at Western Washington University. He and his family moved to Bellingham, so this will be his last performance with the Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra, at least for a while.
The 31-piece orchestra also will feature guest principal cellist Jesse Ahmann and a new bassist, former Chicago Symphony performer Judith Hanna.
For more information about these concerts and the rest of the orchestra’s 2019-2020 season, see PortAngelesSymphony.org or call the symphony office at 360-457-5579.