Cellist Julian Schwarz, pictured rehearsing in spring 2023, rejoins the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra for two performances this Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Port Angeles Symphony)

Cellist, full orchestra to present two performances Saturday

Historic instrument was made in 1743

PORT ANGELES — The 281-year-old cello gets its own seat on the jet plane. Once its companion, Julian Schwarz, buckles it in, the instrument earns frequent flyer miles for him.

This senior instrument “travels in the window seat so as to not obstruct any potential evacuation,” Schwarz noted of his cello, made in 1743 by Gennaro Gagliano.

It is “a dream instrument,” but it needs special care while traveling, added the musician, who lives in Virginia and teaches at the Shenandoah Conservatory.

Their next trip together is to the Olympic Peninsula, where Schwarz will rejoin the Port Angeles Symphony this Saturday. The cellist, along with conductor and artistic director Jonathan Pasternack, will introduce the audience to a rarely performed concerto from American composer Arthur Foote — a work Schwarz discovered years ago and has longed to unleash with a full orchestra.

“It’s a big romantic piece,” Schwarz said. “It has a gorgeous slow movement, an energetic movement, and many solo cello cadenzas,” all of which thrill him.

Along with the cello concerto, the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra will present the “Othello” Overture, music that expressed composer Antonín Dvorak’s ideas about love, jealousy and spirituality. This piece will start the concert.

“For the finale, we’re going to play a favorite of audiences worldwide,” Pasternack said.

“The Third Symphony, dubbed the ‘Scottish’ from Mendelssohn: He was inspired to write it on an extended tour of Scotland and the Scottish isles. It is full of beautiful melodies and has an intricate symphonic structure,” he added.

The Port Angeles Symphony will take the stage twice on Saturday, first for the public dress rehearsal at 10 a.m., and then for the evening concert at 7:30 p.m., following Pasternack and Schwarz’ pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m.

These performances take place at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave. Tickets are available from portangelessymphony.org, at Port Book and News in Port Angeles and at the door on Saturday.

Schwarz is stepping forward in the stead of cellist Traci Winters Tyson, who needed to postpone her performances until February 2025 due to a family emergency.

Having performed with the Port Angeles Symphony many times over nearly two decades — he first played with the orchestra as an 18-year-old — Schwarz didn’t so much as blink when asked to fly west this time, Pasternack said.

Both he and Schwarz anticipate a memorable performance of the Arthur Foote music, which Pasternack calls “truly a monster for cello players.”

“It is a tough workout when practicing,” Schwarz added.

“I’m just very excited about the whole thing. Jonathan and I get to share this new experience of bringing something to life,” with the 65-member orchestra.

Schwarz was enchanted when he first heard Foote’s piece — but couldn’t find the sheet music for it. His friend Pat Takahashi, principal librarian for the Seattle Symphony, tracked it down. Now Schwarz is preparing to make a recording of the concerto with the Buffalo Philharmonic later this year.

“There will be a CD people can blast in their car,” Schwarz quipped.

For Pasternack, Saturday’s concert includes another especially resonant work. The Scottish Symphony was the first piece he conducted with a full symphony orchestra, when he was a 21-year-old student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It was January 1990, and “it was amazing,” the conductor said, “and I wanted to keep doing it.”

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