PORT ANGELES — Her performances are deeply felt; dazzling. She plays — without histrionics — in the tradition of the great soloists of history.
That’s how conductor Jonathan Pasternack describes guest artist Elisa Barston, just before she arrives to perform with the Port Angeles Symphony.
On Saturday, during the first full-orchestra event of the season, the Seattle-based Barston will appear at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave. She’ll have around her the 70 members of the symphony, and together they’ll offer up a famous classic: Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin.
This is “undoubtedly one of the most beloved of all the violin concerti ever written,” said Barston, a principal violinist with the Seattle Symphony who also performed twice with Pasternack when he was conductor of the University of Washington Orchestra.
“I love coming back to this piece time and time again over the course of my career and my life,” she added, “and finding renewed freshness and vitality in the music.”
The Port Angeles Symphony will open the concert with the Andante Festivo by Jean Sibelius; for the finale, it’s Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony — “an exhilarating program,” Barston said.
As always, the symphony holds its final rehearsal at 10 a.m. Saturday and opens it to the public, with admission at $5 per person or $10 per family.
Then Saturday evening starts with an onstage conversation between Barston and Pasternack at 6:40 p.m. He raises his baton at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $30, while youth 16 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
Outlets include Port Book and News in Port Angeles, The Joyful Noise Music Center in Sequim and the symphony office at 360-457-5579. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door.
Alongside the night of music, the symphony is having a pre-holiday food drive in collaboration with Stevens Middle School.
The annual drive aims to “fill the basket” for local students who don’t get enough to eat, so concertgoers are asked to consider donating canned tuna or chicken, canned chili or chicken noodle soup, peanut butter in plastic jars or monetary gifts so organizers can purchase what’s needed most.
Barston, for her part, will give a free, public master class at 2 p.m. today at Port Angeles’ First United Methodist Church, 110 E. Seventh St. Port Angeles High School seniors — and symphony members — Lauren Waldron, Lauren Rankin, Sienna Porter and Marley Cochran are the participants, while Kristin Quigley Brye is the piano accompanist.
This concert is part of the Port Angeles Symphony’s 85th season; Pasternack sought to create a program full of energy and emotion.
“The Shostakovich Fifth Symphony is perhaps the greatest symphony written in the 20th century,” he said.
“[It is] a musical exploration of universal human themes, all within the framework of a classically composed symphony.”
The concerto from Tchaikovsky, another of those Russian musical geniuses, is always a favorite of audiences, Pasternack said, adding that it’s interesting to pair the 19th-century romantic work with the Shostakovich one.
The Andante Festivo at the start is a lyrical work by the Finlander Sibelius, one of Pasternack’s favorite composers.
Live music and a full orchestra, he said, “can inspire and delight us in so many ways.
“It’s my goal to provide our audience with the most expressive performances possible.”
For more about the coming season, including the holiday concert Saturday, Dec. 9, visit www.Port AngelesSymphony.org.
Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer.