PORT TOWNSEND — Often, Lisa Lanza is a demure presence at the piano. Right about now, though, she’s stepping forward, ready to revel in an afternoon celebration of music, youth and cross-continental connection.
“It’s going to be fabulous. We’re going to do all sorts of crazy things,” Lanza said of the event this Sunday that, on the surface, looks pretty dignified.
Yet this is no run-of-the-mill event.
The Ugandan AIDS Orphans Benefit Concert, besides featuring well-known classical musicians such as Lanza and cellist Maryann Tapiro, features a warm-up act in the Port Townsend Steel Band, Angie Tabor’s steel-pan ensemble.
That group will dish out tropically flavored music at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St.; then the main event follows at 4 p.m.
Admission is by donation with $10 to $20 suggested, while no one will be turned away.
Proceeds will benefit a group of young people in central Uganda’s Mpigi district: students who correspond with members of Grace Lutheran Church in Port Townsend.
In this 11th annual performance, Lanza and company will celebrate young standouts in the local music community. Preteen cellists and a teenage violist are among those poised to offer a range of pieces, from Mark O’Connor’s “Appalachia Waltz” and David Burndrett’s “Flamenco Fantastico” to songs by Taylor Swift and Sinéad O’Connor.
The youthful cast of the concert fits its beneficiaries, 30 youngsters who are growing up without their parents. All have lost their mothers and fathers to the AIDS pandemic.
These youngsters are in school and on their way to becoming active members of society, said Uganda orphans project organizer Sharon Dembro, thanks to ongoing support from Grace Lutheran. The benefit concert, always held in May, generates a significant amount toward their expenses from elementary school onward.
Throughout the years, Dembro noted, the Uganda orphans have done well for themselves. Vivien Nanfuka, who went all the way through high school, college and medical school with help from Port Townsend, recently became a doctor.
Dembro will read a couple of letters from Uganda youngsters — pen pals of Port Townsenders — during a break in the concert. She’ll also give an update on the progress of the rest of the students who receive support.
Then comes a lot more music: some classical, a bit of pop plus what Lanza calls a “fantastic Spanish piece” by Joaquin Turina. The afternoon’s program includes:
• Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” overture with pianists Lanza and Mark Johnson.
• “Simple Song” from Bernstein’s Mass, with Lanza and baritone Blaine Lewis.
• Sinéad O’Connor’s “This Is to Mother You” with vocalists Jeni Little and Sarah Gustner, guitarist Don Fristoe and the Grace Lutheran Choir with director Colleen Johnson.
• Taylor Swift’s “The Best Day” and “All I Want” by Kodaline with singer-guitarist-ukulelist Taylor Montgomery.
• “Such Busy Lives We Lead” by Lisa Cameron and “Flamenco Fantastico” with cellists Madelynn Geelan, William Hiegel, Soare Johnston and Elliott Kithcart.
• “Two Grenadiers” by Robert Schumann with Lanza and violinist Nadia Fisch.
• Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” with soprano Emily Riesser and a cello octet.
• The Flower Duet from Delibes’ “Lakmé” with sopranos Linda Bach and Cherry Chenruk-Geelan.
• Brahms’ Scherzo from F-A-E with pianist Jennifer Chung and violist Matthew Daline.
• The lento and vivo movements from Joachim Turina’s Piano Quartet in A minor with Lanza, cellist Maryann Tapiro, violist Gwen Franz and violinist Marina Rosenquist.
“We get to meet as a community and share music,” Lanza said.
“It’s about spreading beauty.”