By Diane Urbani de la Paz
For the Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Before laying hands on piano keys, Joy Lingerfelt cites some research.
Music makes your immune system stronger, she tells her listeners. According to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, Ph.D, author of “This Is Your Brain on Music,” some 400 studies have shown that singing and playing music builds up production of the antibody immunoglobulin A while drawing down cortisol, the stress hormone.
We, along with the 22-voice Port Angeles Symphony Chorus, will soon see about that.
The brand-new ensemble will make its debut in two Saturday performances with the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra, singing well-known holiday songs and then inviting the audience to join in a singalong.
This unprecedented concert will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave. A short pre-concert chat with maestro Jonathan Pasternack is set for 6:40 p.m.
The public is also welcome at the final rehearsal, held at the same venue at 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 per person or $10 per family.
Tickets for the evening concert range from $12 for seniors and students to $15 for general admission and $20 to $30 for premium reserved seats, while those 16 and younger are admitted free with an adult.
Tickets are available at Port Book and News in Port Angeles, The Joyful Noise Music Center in Sequim or www.Brownpapertickets.com. They also will be sold at the door.
Lingerfelt provided the research on music — how it’s relaxing and could prevent winter colds and flu — at a recent rehearsal.
Then she guided the chorus through “O Holy Night,” the “Christmas Day” medley by Gustav Holst and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.”
Lingerfelt and Pasternack, the Port Angeles Symphony conductor who decided to form the chorus this year, held auditions for it back in October.
Among the seven men and 14 women from across Clallam and Jefferson counties invited to join the ensemble is MarySue French of Port Angeles, a singer who might appear too busy to add this to her plate.
French is the controller at Nippon Paper Industries USA, co-owner of the Cabled Fiber Studio in downtown Port Angeles and a member of another choir, the NorthWest Women’s Chorale.
The bottom line is that she loves to sing. And French, a soprano, draws energy from her fellow choristers.
“These ladies have their act together,” she said of her section, which includes Stacey Fradkin, Cindy Laughmann, Judy Moilanen, Maureen Reynolds and Andrea Saxe.
French added that the chorus is made up of longtime members of the community as well as relative newcomers and people ranging from 20-something to 70-plus.
“I like the fact that ‘O Holy Night’ includes everybody,” she said of the chosen version of the classic, which is arranged by John Rutter.
As for the Holst medley of Christmas songs, “it puts you through your paces.”
The “Hallelujah Chorus” is to be the last number before the audience singalong in Saturday’s concert, so it’s a kind of prelude to the singalong “Messiah” to be held at Sequim’s Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., at 1 p.m. Dec. 31. Singer Joel Yelland and conductor Jerry Wright are organizing that event, long led by the late conductor Dewey Ehling.
For her part, French looks forward to the thrill of performing alongside a full orchestra this Saturday. The Port Angeles Symphony, with its 70 members under Pasternack’s baton, will back the singers in their 25-minute set.
The chorus’ alto section includes Vicki Helwick, Betty Marcoux, Janis Burger, Vicki Corson, BJ Cavanaugh, Bonnie Christianson and Kristin Luana Bauman; tenors are Thom Reis, Myrna Schaaf, Louise Deal and Robert McCauley; and basses include Yelland, Kent Brauninger, Don Corson, Mark Johnson and Dave Shargel, another busy performer who danced last weekend in the Ballet Workshop of Port Angeles’ “The Nutcracker.”
The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra will offer a slate of its own during Saturday’s concert, with selections from “The Nutcracker,” Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Greensleeves Fantasia,” Leroy Anderson’s “Christmas Festival” and a suite of Hanukkah songs on the program.
Pasternack and the orchestra will also offer Anatol Liadov’s Eight Russian Folk Songs, which are “gorgeous music,” in the maestro’s words.
“It features all of the sections in the orchestra,” he added, “and it’s very joyful.”
For more details, phone 360-457-5579 or email PASymphony@olypen.com.