Altos Janis Burger, left, and Bonnie Christianson rehearse for the Port Angeles Symphony Chorus’ debut this Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Altos Janis Burger, left, and Bonnie Christianson rehearse for the Port Angeles Symphony Chorus’ debut this Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Symphony Chorus will make debut Saturday

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 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


Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Angeles.

Soprano Andrea Saxe of Port Angeles rehearses last week with the 22-voice Port Angeles Symphony Chorus. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

Soprano Andrea Saxe of Port Angeles rehearses last week with the 22-voice Port Angeles Symphony Chorus. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)

More in Entertainment

Bremerton skaters to perform in Port Angeles on Sunday

Two skaters from the Bremerton Figure Skaters club will… Continue reading

Museum presents holiday cheer

The Jefferson County Historical Society is presenting a Holiday… Continue reading

Dave Logan
Tyler Gage and Adam DeFilippo decorate the 1956 Seagrave fire engine in 2022.
Operation Candy Cane begins Saturday

Operation Candy Cane 2023 begins Saturday and will continue… Continue reading

Festivals, plays, concerts on Peninsula this weekend

Holiday festivals, plays and music will be offered this weekend on the… Continue reading

Holiday bazaars offer gift shopping

Holiday bazaars continue on the North Olympic Peninsula this weekend. • Christmas… Continue reading

Emily McAlily, in the part of Chandon, left, toys with the wig of Steve Methner, playing the role of King Triton, prior to a Tuesday rehearsal of the PA Panto production of Ethel Mermaid and the Varying Degrees of Evil, which starts this weekend at Peninsula College. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Now divorced from prince, mermaid wants to go home

PA Panto show to be performed over two weekends

Christmas shows staged at Key City Public Theatre

Key City Public Theatre is presenting two performances showcasing… Continue reading

Holiday bazaars set on Peninsula

Holiday shopping is offered at bazaars on the North Olympic Peninsula this… Continue reading

Port Townsend Ballet to perform The Nutcracker this weekend

With its timeless magic, lavish costumes, and Snow, Dew… Continue reading

The Fractal Phase from Wintertide 2022 offers a taste of the 2023 Light Art Experience that will be available during the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s third annual Wintertide Festival of Lights. (Cascadia Films)
Third annual Wintertide Festival of Lights set for Saturday

Light installations, market among outdoor attractions

Cast members outside of the recent Jane Austen Tea. Pictured from left to right, back row: Wesley Vollmer, Olivia Wray, Cecie Gonzales McClelland and Sunshine Pederson. Front row: Poet XIX and Belle Robinson.
Port Angeles Community Players to present ‘Christmas at Pemberly’

The Port Angeles Community Players will present “Christmas at… Continue reading

Guitarist Colin Davin, left, stands beside Port Angeles Symphony conductor Jonathan Pasternack, after stepping in at the last minute to perform with the orchestra in December 2021. Davin will rejoin the symphony for its Holiday Concert this Saturday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/for Peninsula Daily News)
Symphony, guitarist to play holiday music from around the globe

“When it’s good,” he said, “it’s like flying.” Guitarist… Continue reading