Pianist Paige Roberts Molloy will be the guest soloist at this week’s Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra concerts. (Seattle Chamber Music Society)

Pianist Paige Roberts Molloy will be the guest soloist at this week’s Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra concerts. (Seattle Chamber Music Society)

Pair of concerts to feature piano soloist, ‘riveting’ music

PORT ANGELES — This piece she is about to perform — for the first time in her life — is “absolutely riveting. It’s a big deal,” said Paige Roberts Molloy, the guest soloist who will join the Port Angeles Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra this Friday and Saturday.

With trumpet player Scott Meredith and the orchestra beside her, Molloy will play Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings.

It’s the centerpiece of the chamber orchestra’s two final concerts of the 2023-24 season on Friday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Lopez Ave. in Port Angeles, and Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim. Both concerts begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults and free for those 18 and younger who come with a ticketed patron. More information is at portangelessymphony.org, while tickets can be purchased on that website, at Port Book and News in Port Angeles and at the door on concert night.

The evenings will start out with Samuel Barber’s well-known Adagio for strings, “a really gorgeous and meditative work,” said Jonathan Pasternack, the symphony’s conductor and artistic director. Then comes Ottorino Respighi’s tuneful Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 3, and finally the Shostakovich.

“Like many of the composer’s works, this concerto is a compelling balance of light and shadow,” Pasternack said.

The music mixes lyrical melodies and dramatic passages with jazzy rhythms.

The conductor first got to know Molloy’s playing when she came to the North Olympic Peninsula in 2022 to give a recital with her dear friend, violinist Elisa Barston.

“The depth of her musicianship and technical virtuosity were undeniable,” Pasternack said, “and I thought immediately of inviting her to play this Shostakovich concerto.”

Meredith, Pasternack added, is “an outstanding player who we have been lucky to have as our principal trumpet for the last five years. He was the obvious choice to play these performances, and I was happy when he jumped at the opportunity.”

As for Molloy, she calls Friday’s and Saturday’s performances to a big reveal, a chance for music lovers to hear a seldom-performed work. The Juilliard-educated Seattle resident has been practicing and listening to recordings and practicing with recordings — the Shostakovich is “a very difficult, complex piece,” she said.

Molloy has played many concertos during her long career, but she’s never had the opportunity to perform this one. It has been a pure thrill to learn it, she said.

Molloy, who turns 54 this month, grew up in Texas and then went to New York City to study at Juilliard. The pianist has traveled across North America and Europe since.

Each of these upcoming concerts “will be a rare treat,” Molloy said.

“It’s an unusual program,” culminating in the Shostakovich concert that is dancelike and jovial at times and quite pensive and serious at other times.

And the last movement?

“It is like a wild ride at the amusement park, or a can-can dance,” Molloy said, “wild and raucous.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Port Townsend.

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