WEEKEND: Port Townsend Community Orchestra warms up to spring Saturday

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — “The Walk to the Paradise Garden.” “Three Bavarian Dances.” “Flowers of the Field.”

Sounds like the Port Townsend Community Orchestra, with maestro Dewey Ehling, are eager for springtime.

Together they will do what they can to bring it on this Saturday night.

The orchestra, with guest soloist Phil Morgan-Ellis, will step up at 7:30 p.m. at the Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Road, for a free concert celebrating the music of British composers, with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Flos Campi” — “Flowers of the Field” — as its centerpiece.

Morgan-Ellis is the viola soloist, a man well-known in Port Angeles and Sequim for teaching young musicians and recently for leading the Sequim Community Orchestra.

But Saturday night’s performance is a rare thing. The only other time he’s been the soloist was in 1978 with the Port Angeles Symphony, when he first came to the North Olympic Peninsula.

Since then Morgan-Ellis has left and come back. He moved to Costa Rica to teach in the National Youth Orchestra there — and then, after his return home, he became conductor of the Sequim Community Orchestra two years ago.

A student of music since he was a third-grader in Utah, Morgan-Ellis started out playing drums.

In the fourth grade, he wanted to play the viola, but a teacher assured him that his arms would never be long enough to be any good at it, so he started on the violin. After graduation from college, he finally began to study the viola.

The “Flos Campi” is a new piece for Morgan-Ellis, one that captivates him.

“It takes you into a foreign landscape full of new colors,” he said. The music returns again and again to its familiar themes — “but never quite as you expect them.”

Ehling, remarking on how unusual it is for Morgan-Ellis to appear as a soloist, added, “he is so deserving. I’m pleased we could work this out.”

The opening duet between oboe and viola “is well worth the price of admission,” he added.

“Since there’s no admission, that probably doesn’t say too much, but it is charming nevertheless.”

The conductor noted too that Vaughan Williams provides a part for the audience. Each section of “Flos Campi” has a preface with quotations from the Old Testament’s “Song of Solomon,” for the listener to read to him- or herself.

Ehling, who will give a short talk on the evening’s music at 6:45 p.m., has added another piece he adores: “The Walk to the Paradise Garden” by Frederick Delius.

“What a gorgeous piece,” he said. “The first time I heard it was when I was in college during the late ’40s. I’ve loved it ever since.”

With the St. Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst and Edward Elgar’s “Three Bavarian Dances,” Saturday’s program will satisfy minds and hearts, Ehling believes.

Bodies, too: This Port Townsend Community Orchestra performance is free as is traditional, while it’s also the Food Bank Donation Concert.

Listeners are invited to bring nonperishable food contributions to place in the bins at the door.

For more about the orchestra and its schedule of concerts, see www.PortTownsendOrchestra.org.

Last modified: February 20. 2014 7:12PM
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