PORT ANGELES — Charlotte Marckx has been stepping onto stages since she was a young girl. For years, she’s stood up there at the front edge, the orchestra behind her, and lifted her violin to play.
Now, at 20, she’s as eager as ever to leap into her next gig.
“There’s something about playing in front of an orchestra. It’s different from most other feelings in the world. I really can’t believe my luck,” Marckx began.
Marckx is the guest soloist in this Saturday’s Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra concert featuring Dvorak’s Concerto for Violin plus music of Arvo Pärt and Camille Saint-Saëns.
The violinist, who grew up in Bellevue, continues to marvel at the whole experience of playing in Port Angeles. She performed “Winter” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” with the Symphony here five years ago to a packed auditorium.
“There are not a ton of places in the world that have that kind of community love of music,” she said. “This is a fantastic orchestra. There’s a really amazing thing happening in Port Angeles.”
This time, Marckx, a senior at Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, has been invited to play the Dvorak piece — “it’s big, it’s beautiful” is how she describes it — after previously scheduled soloist Elisa Barston became unavailable.
The 60-piece orchestra, conducted by artistic director Jonathan Pasternack, will take the stage Saturday at 7:30 p.m. after a short pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m. at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave.
In addition, the public is welcome at the symphony’s dress rehearsal there at 10 a.m.
Tickets are available at portangelessymphony.org, at Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles and at the door Saturday. Concert-goers 18 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a ticketed patron.
When Pasternack asked Marckx to return to Port Angeles as the featured soloist in this concert, she consulted her professor, Robert Lipsett, about whether she was the right violinist for it. Lipsett, who holds the Jascha Heifetz chair at Colburn, affirmed that she is.
Playing and listening to the Dvorak concerto is “a real emotional journey,” Marckx said. It has pain and regret; redemption and reverence — as well as mercy, forgiveness “and the euphoria that comes with that,” she added.
And then it has a rhythmic energy and drive of a folk tune, something Marckx finds exquisitely fun to play.
Today, the day before her performances, the violinist will visit music teachers Traci Tyson and Amber Roskamp’s strings classes at Hamilton, Dry Creek and Franklin elementary schools and Stevens Middle School in Port Angeles.
“I asked her [to meet with the students], and she enthusiastically accepted,” Pasternack said.
On Saturday, Marckx’s Dvorak will be surrounded with music that shows off the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra, he added. Pasternack has chosen living Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten” and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, popularly known as the “Organ symphony.”
“I sometimes like to program works that build in energy as the concert unfolds. Arvo Pärt’s Cantus is a very mystical kind of piece … it has a unique emotional power,” Pasternack said.
For the Saint-Saëns, he worked with organist-composer Noah Smith, director of music ministry at Port Angeles’ Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, on a challenge particular to the high school performing arts center: There’s no organ available at the venue.
“Noah has come up with a technological solution,” Pasternack said, “that will give listeners the experience of listening to a grand cathedral organ.”
The conductor added that the finale of the Saint-Saëns symphony also includes a brief but delectable piano part for two hands, to be played by Linda Dowdell of Sequim, and then a piano part for four hands. Darrell Plank, also a Sequim pianist, will join Dowdell for this part, making his debut with the orchestra.
“It is simply heavenly, the way the piano frames the majestic melody in the strings … one of the most sublime moments in all orchestral music,” Pasternack noted.
As for Marckx, she’s a performer who lives each moment to the utmost.
After playing a virtuosic piece such as the Dvorak concerto, “I’m exhausted,” she admitted.
Yet the audience buoys her forward.
“There’s this sense of group accomplishment that feels really electric. There’s an emotional catharsis. The audience is relieved, the orchestra and the conductor are relieved, and there’s this collective ability to breathe.
“Let me tell you,” Marckx said, “it feels amazing.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend.