Julian Schwarz (pictured), Elisa Barston and Alexander Tutunov are among the guest soloists in the reconfigured Port Angeles Symphony season. Submitted photo

Julian Schwarz (pictured), Elisa Barston and Alexander Tutunov are among the guest soloists in the reconfigured Port Angeles Symphony season. Submitted photo

Port Angeles Symphony redesigns new season: Five double-concert dates set

The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra’s concert season will look different come this fall, in light of a unanimous vote by the symphony’s board of directors.

In a meeting this past week with conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack, the board discussed ways to modify the community orchestra’s 2020-2021 programming, booked several months ago.

“Most importantly, we want our patrons and musicians to feel safe at our events,” said Pasternack.

He and the board revised the coming lineup of concerts, opting to hold all of them in the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center.

There’s space enough at that venue for concert-goers to practice social distancing, added board member Mary Ann Unger.

The season brochure and order form usually come out in spring. For the 2020-2021 season, the brochure will be released this summer, to focus on the full-orchestra performances in the high school Performing Arts Center. The auditorium at 304 E. Park Ave. has a broad stage and more than 1,100 seats.

On each of the concert dates — Nov. 7, Dec. 12, Feb. 20, March 27 and May 1 — two formal performances will be held: one in the late morning and one in the evening.

Guest soloists in the coming season include Russian-born pianist Alexander Tutunov; Seattle Symphony violinist Elisa Barston; New York City cellist Julian Schwarz; Seattle’s Olivia and Charlotte Marckx, the violin-cello duo known as the Sempre Sisters; and vocalists Kristin K. Vogel and Anthony Kalil singing arias and duets from Puccini and Verdi.

Pasternack and the orchestra are also considering opening up the rehearsals at the Performing Arts Center on the previous Thursday nights.

In addition, two recitals are planned: first the Ballet Workshop 50th anniversary gala this fall, with the Symphony performing with guest artists and dancers from the Ballet Workshop of Port Angeles, and a spring chamber music event. Dates are yet to be announced.

At the full-orchestra concerts beginning in November, the ensemble will be slightly smaller in number so the musicians’ seating can be spread out, Pasternack noted.

“Additional measures will include modifying ticketing procedures, concentrating on subscription sales, forgoing concessions and ticket sales at concert time, providing multiple sanitizer stations at the venue, and staggering arrival and departure times for patrons at the concert hall.”

Pasternack sees these changes as necessary but temporary. Patrons with assigned seats will be able to keep those same seats in the 2021-2022 season, when he hopes the orchestra will return to normal operations. Meanwhile, current subscribers will be given priority in choosing seats for this fall, once subscriptions go on sale this summer.

Since it’s uncertain when state-mandated distancing will be relaxed, the board opted to defer concerts in smaller venues until next year. These include September’s Pops & Picnic at the Vern Burton Community Center and the October, January and May chamber orchestra concerts at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles and Trinity United Methodist Church in Sequim.

Marie Meyers of Sequim, a flutist and a board member, said playing with the Port Angeles Symphony is like being part of two families, the musicians and the listeners.

“Though our season will be abbreviated,” she said, “I still look forward to enjoying the world of music safely with both.”

The question, Pasternack added, is how to balance needed safety protocols and understandable concerns with the Port Angeles Symphony’s mission.

The nonprofit organization, heading into its 88th season, was founded on the tenet of bringing high-quality orchestra performances to the local community.

“Especially in these times,” Pasternack said, “the inspiration, solace and communion of live music would be a precious gift.”

Back in early March, Pasternack announced cancellation of the Symphony’s March and May performances, including the Ballet Workshop gala originally set for March 20 and the May 2 concert featuring guest soloist Anna Petrova. He hopes to invite the Bulgarian-born pianist back during the 2021-2022 season.

“As heartbroken as we are about the cancellations, we’ve worked hard to design a new season,” Pasternack said, adding that he lives for the day when he can return to gathering orchestra and audience for the experience of live music.

For information or to be included on the Port Angeles Symphony’s season brochure mailing list, email pasymphony@olypen.com, or leave a message at the office at 360-457-5579.

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