PORT ANGELES — Listen to this music, and you can hear its maker saying: “I’m young, I love life, I love nature — and now I’ll show you everything I can do.”
Felix Mendelssohn proclaims that and then some in his famed Violin Concerto, said Monique Mead; she should know, since this is the piece of music that put her on her path.
Mead just played the 177-year-old concerto at a private performance in Berlin, and quipped that it was a dress rehearsal for the concert she’ll give with the full Port Angeles Symphony on Saturday.
This is her fifth time returning to this part of the world to perform with its orchestra, which this time will also offer Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in E minor and a folksy Glinka piece called “Kamarinskaya.”
Concert time is 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., with a brief pre-concert chat at 6:40 p.m. by music director and conductor Jonathan Pasternack.
Saturday’s event marks the start of the symphony orchestra’s 87th season, and its fifth with Pasternack.
He’s just returned from an October concert with Spanish pianist Josu de Solaun and the Filarmonica Paul Constantinescu in Ploiesti, Romania.
Tickets range from $15 for seniors and students and $18 for general admission to $25 and $35 for premium reserved seats, while outlets include brownpapertickets.com, Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles and the symphony office at 360-457-5579. Remaining tickets will be available at the door.
The public also is invited to the orchestra’s final rehearsal before the evening concert. That starts at 10 a.m. Saturday in the high school Performing Arts Center, with admission at $7.
At both rehearsal and concert, those 16 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
“There’s nothing about this that is not enjoyable,” Mead said of the Mendelssohn concerto.
“It’s lovely and songful … with a little bit of fireworks,” added by the composer, who was just 29 when he began writing it.
Mead remembers the summer she first learned to play the concerto. She had a cassette tape of it that she’d listen to at night; hearing it today brings her back to when she was 13, full of anxiety and eagerness around her violin.
At 14, she was a Utah kid at the Interlochen music camp in northwest Michigan, and the youngest musician to make it into the World Youth Symphony Orchestra there. The thrill of performing Mendelssohn and other great masters that season has stayed bright and clear in her memory.
“That was the happiest summer of my life,” Mead said. “In the eight weeks at that camp, I knew music was what I wanted to do with my life.”
Now based at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University as an educator and performer, Mead teaches the [email protected] camp at Lake Crescent each summer. She’ll be performing this weekend with students from that camp who are now members of the Port Angeles Symphony, including violist Lauren Waldron and violinist Adam Weller.
North Olympic Peninsula concert-goers, Mead added, “are terrific, attentive and generous in their appreciation for the music. The fact we are able to fill the place — for the morning rehearsal and the evening concert — says a lot for the spirit of Port Angeles.”
Pasternack noted that the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky works are some of the best-loved classics of all time, while the short opening piece helped establish Mikhail Glinka as the grandfather of Russian music. The composer, born in 1804, stitched indigenous threads into his work to give it a distinct sound.
The Tchaikovsky symphony is the finale in this showcase of the orchestra, the conductor added. Among the noted performers are guest concertmaster Marjory Noble, bassoonist Keith Bowen from Port Townsend and trombonist Matt Grey, who is originally from Sequim and now performs around Puget Sound.
“The concerts are filled with electricity,” Pasternack said.
“We’ve been doing some very challenging programs lately, and the orchestra has been rising to the occasion.”
For information about forthcoming performances including the Holiday Concert with the Port Angeles Symphony Chorus joining the orchestra Dec. 14, call 360-457-5579, email [email protected] or visit PortAngelesSymphony.org.