PORT ANGELES — Fulfilling its mission — connecting with the local community through music — hasn’t been easy for the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra in recent months.
With changing state restrictions and COVID case rates, the 89-year-old symphony has had to go from plan B to plan C to plan D, as conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack describes it.
Concert video recordings planned for this Saturday and for March and May are postponed — and replaced with three new events: a virtual Applause! Auction and two recitals recorded especially for Port Angeles Symphony fans.
The Applause! Auction, the symphony’s major fundraiser every year, is set for live streaming March 12 and will feature short performances by local musicians, Pasternack announced this week.
Also in March, internationally known cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki will give a recital from the home they share in Virginia. Schwarz, who has performed as a guest soloist with the Port Angeles Symphony on two occasions, married Bournaki last summer.
Later this spring, another popular soloist, pianist Alexander Tutunov of Ashland, Ore., will present a solo recital prepared especially for Port Angeles Symphony audiences.
“Julian, Marika and Alexander are three wonderful artists who love our community,” said Pasternack, “and I’m so happy we will be able to present them in recital this season.”
The video performances will be available via the symphony’s YouTube channel all spring and summer, Pasternack added.
Next, the symphony will assemble a string quartet to play during the 2021 Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, a virtual or possibly hybrid event May 28-31.
The symphony’s previously planned chamber concert videos aren’t practical yet, Pasternack said.
“I polled my string players, and at this point, understandably, most are not ready to get together,” for the hours of rehearsal needed before a performance.
The conductor looks forward, to put it mildly, to the day when the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra can give concerts again. He and the musicians, who come from across and beyond Clallam and Jefferson counties, will work with state guidelines for masking, physical distancing and limited venue capacity.
In early November, the symphony presented a concert featuring the Sempre Sisters, Charlotte and Olivia Marckx, with a string octet at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. The performance of Mendelssohn and Brahms, also featuring violinist James Garlick, became a video production made available free online; it continues to be offered via PortAngelesSymphony.org.
Soon after that performance was recorded, COVID case rates in Washington state rose considerably, and Gov. Jay Inslee announced stricter limits on indoor gatherings, and the subsequent concerts had to be put on hold.
Yet Pasternack is planning more performances into the fall and expressing gratitude for the people who have sent contributions over the past year.
“Thanks to the incredible support of our community, grants and donations we are receiving and prudent long-range planning by our board,” he said, “we are surviving this unprecedented time of crisis.
“And how sweet will be those first notes we get to play when we are finally back together as a full orchestra.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.