Richard O’Neill

Richard O’Neill

Globetrotting artists return home for Port Angeles Symphony concert Saturday

PORT ANGELES — “This piece of music is pure beauty. It’s one I would carry with me to a desert island.”

That’s how Port Angeles native and internationally known violinist James Garlick feels about the Mozart work he and his old friend are about to perform in his hometown.

Garlick’s friend is Richard Yongjae O’Neill, the Emmy-winning viola player with whom Garlick used to play duets while riding the MV Coho ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria.

This Saturday, the two men will join the Port Angeles Symphony to offer Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major.

The piece, a rare work for viola, violin and orchestra, is alight with interplay among Garlick, O’Neill and the symphony.

The 65-piece orchestra will also present two more works: Robert Schumann’s Fourth Symphony and Claude Debussy’s Romantic “Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun.”

Maestro Jonathan Pasternack, conductor of the symphony, will give an informal talk about the music and soloists at 6:40 p.m.; concert time is 7:30 p.m. in the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave.

Tickets start at $12 for students and seniors; general admission is $15 and reserved seats $20 to $30.

Outlets include Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles, The Joyful Noise Music Center in downtown Sequim and the Port Angeles Symphony office at 360-457-5579. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door.

In addition, the orchestra’s final rehearsal is open to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 per person or $10 per family.

At all Port Angeles Symphony concerts, those 16 and younger are admitted free with an adult.

Garlick and O’Neill are still crossing borders — Garlick to concerts in Cuba with the Northwest Sinfonietta and O’Neill across North America and Asia, where he’s played for stadium-size crowds in South Korea.

Both O’Neill, who went to school in Sequim, and Garlick studied and played with Phil and Deborah Morgan-Ellis, the veteran teachers who are still highly active in Clallam County’s musical community.

“It’s such a coup to have Richard back in Port Angeles,” said Garlick, who calls the violist one of the best in the world.

O’Neill, who like Garlick graduated from the Juilliard School in New York City, has appeared with the London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Euro-Asian philharmonics; the BBC, KBS and Korean symphonies; and the Moscow, Vienna and Württemburg chamber orchestras, among other ensembles.

He also serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, the Special Olympics, OXFAM and UNICEF.

O’Neill calls the Morgan-Ellises two of “my most important and amazing teachers.” He also remembers Nico Snel, the late conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony. As a boy from Sequim, he played with the symphony for a couple of years.

“I will never forget those Monday night rehearsals after school,” said O’Neill, who, after finishing eighth grade in Sequim, moved east to attend the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Garlick, meanwhile, lives in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife, Emily James — who was his music-stand partner when they were in the Port Angeles High School Orchestra.

Though Garlick and O’Neill have crossed paths many times, it’s been decades since they performed together. And along with the thrill of playing Mozart, O’Neill looks forward to reconnecting to his first orchestra.

“My family would attend, and as a young child, I must admit it was hard to sit still the entire time,” he said.

Yet he holds a sense memory of those days: the first time he heard the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra — PASO — play Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”

“It was a really amazing moment, and I can still hear and see parts of it in my memory,” O’Neill said.

“PASO is a treasure of the Olympic Peninsula,” he added, “and helped me on my path to becoming the musician I am today.”

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