By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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First, in its effort to open the world of orchestral music to youthful listeners, the symphony will offer free admission to patrons 16 and younger who attend its evening concert with an adult in tow.
The 55-member orchestra's first concerts of the 2013-2014 season, featuring guest soloist Melia Watras, are this Saturday at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., and as ever there are two performances to choose from: the dress rehearsal at 10 a.m. and the evening concert at 7:30.
In both, the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu's Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra will be a centerpiece, set off by a pair of far more familiar works: Mozart's “Magic Flute” overture and Brahms' Symphony No. 1.
Watras herself suggested the Martinu, and after listening to the first minutes of a recording, “I fell madly in love with the piece,” said Adam Stern, conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony.
He was likewise entranced by how this music brings the viola, an instrument not as well-known as its violin and cello sisters, into the limelight.
Watras, a Juilliard alumna and a professor of viola at the University of Washington in Seattle, is regarded as one of the instrument's leading voices. A Seattle Times critic, after hearing her recent CD “Short Stories,” marveled at her “velocity that seems beyond the reach of human fingers.”
Also to join Watras and the Port Angeles Symphony on Saturday is Robin Rilette, the music director at Northwest Public Radio in Pullman. She'll participate in Stern's pre-concert conversation, on stage at 6:40 p.m. Saturday, offer opening remarks before the performance and meet patrons in the lobby during intermission.
Tickets to the symphony's morning dress rehearsal are $5 per person or $10 per family, while reserved seats at the evening concert are $20 and $30; general seating is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and free for youth age 16 and younger.
Outlets for general seating tickets include Port Angeles' Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., and Sequim's Good Book-Joyful Noise Music Center, 108 W. Washington St., and Sequim Village Glass, 761 Carlsborg Road. Reserved seats can be purchased via the symphony office at 360-457-5579. Tickets will also be available at the door Saturday.
To learn more about the forthcoming season, which includes the symphony's Dec. 14 holiday concert and the chamber orchestra's all-Bach program Jan. 17-18, visit www.PortAngelesSymphony.org.