PORT TOWNSEND — As a little girl in Forks during the early 1980s, Serena Tideman found inspiration in the Hoh Rain Forest, Tchaikovsky and MTV.
Tideman, now an internationally known cellist and composer who lives in Port Townsend, will give a “Baroque folk” concert at The Upstage, 923 Washington St., on Sunday afternoon — alongside friends she met when traveling through San Francisco.
The performance will start at 3 p.m.; admission is $8 or $4 for seniors and patrons 20 and younger.
These friends are Foxtails Brigade, an “amazing and unique band,” Tideman said, that mixes Baroque chamber music with a pop sound.
“I convinced them to come to Port Townsend and said there will be a really warm audience here,” she added.
Tideman was born in Forks, then studied cello from age 9 forward.
She fell in love with the instrument because, she said, “it had such a rich, warm, melancholy” sound.
“Perhaps unconsciously, it reminded me of the forest, too, because it is like the soul of a tree.”
Her Forks girlhood fed Tideman’s soul: “I feel much of my creativity stems from . . . playing outside in wild nature as a small child,” she said.
At home, her family had few records, “but we did have ‘Swan Lake’ by Tchaikovsky, and that was my favorite.”
Another thing she remembers from Forks: watching MTV. Those were the cable channel’s early days, and Tideman adored the videos and dancing around her living room to Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson.
While Tideman was still in elementary school, her family moved to Seattle — where she encountered her grandmother’s cello.
She was advised not to touch it, which made her desire to do so someday even more intense.
At age 8, she learned to play her first instrument: the ukulele in her school’s music room.
Her first cello teacher came soon after: Eric Jensen, an inventor of one the first electric cellos.
Jensen had a Ph.D. in cello from Yale and an eclectic musical repertoire.
“He was a big influence on me,” Tideman recalled.
“His decision to allow me to play fiddle tunes and jazz tunes like Scott Joplin in my first years of playing gave me a really great foundation.”
As a teenager, Tideman studied chamber music at the Marrowstone Music Festival and the Olympic Music Festival near Quilcene.
“My teachers there were amazing,” she said.
“I particularly connected with Jennifer Culp, who later became the cellist for the Kronos Quartet, and the late Eleonore Schoenfeld, who helped lead the music department at USC, and Tsyoshi Tsutsumi, who probably saved my life and future career because he taught me how to play without tension,” she added.
“Tsutsumi gave me a master class that was much like the lesson of ‘The Karate Kid’: how everything can be accomplished through circles, rather than forcing it to happen.”
Tideman has since performed around the United States, Europe and Hong Kong. She has released two albums, “Secret Musik” in July and “Kalakala: Songs From a Parallel Universe,” which was recorded on the Kalakala ferry, in January of this year.
Both are available via Tideman’s website, www.SerendipityMusik.com.
She’s at work on a new album now and promises to play some of her newest songs Sunday at
At this point in her career, Tideman said, she revels in “exploring new colors and techniques on the cello but not being so bound by experimentalism as to neglect harmony and melody.”
But her greatest joy as a musician “is to express something intangible about the essential nature of the universe in a sensual, tangible way.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]