PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra’s concert season will look different come this fall, with five dates scheduled in addition to two recitals.
The symphony will focus on the full-orchestra performances at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, which has a broad stage and more than 1,100 seats at 304 E. Park Ave. There’s space enough at that venue for concert-goers to practice social distancing, board member Mary Ann Unger said.
The symphony board unanimously approved the programming last week after a meeting with conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack.
“Most importantly, we want our patrons and musicians to feel safe at our events,” Pasternack said.
Each of the concert dates — Nov. 7, Dec. 12, Feb. 20, March 27 and May 1 — will feature two formal performances: one in the late morning and one in the evening.
Guest soloists will include Russian-born pianist Alexander Tutunov; Seattle Symphony violinist Elisa Barston; New York City cellist Julian Schwarz; Seattle’s Olivia and Charlotte Marckx, the violin-cello duo known as the Sempre Sisters; and vocalists Kristin K. Vogel and Anthony Kalil singing arias and duets from Puccini and Verdi.
Pasternack and the orchestra are also considering opening the rehearsals at the Performing Arts Center on Thursday nights prior to the concert dates.
The recitals will include the Ballet Workshop 50th anniversary gala, with the symphony performing with guest artists and dancers from the Ballet Workshop of Port Angeles, and a spring chamber music event. Dates are to be determined.
At the full-orchestra concerts beginning in November, the ensemble will be slightly smaller so the musicians’ seating can be spread out, Pasternack said.
“Additional measures will include modifying ticketing procedures, concentrating on subscription sales, forgoing concessions and ticket sales at concert time, providing multiple sanitizer stations at the venue, and staggering arrival and departure times for patrons at the concert hall,” he said.
Pasternack sees the changes as necessary but temporary.
Patrons with assigned seats will be able to keep them in the 2021-22 season, when Pasternack hopes the orchestra will return to normal operations.
Meanwhile, current subscribers will be given priority to choose seats for this fall, once subscriptions go on sale this summer.
Since it’s uncertain when state-mandated social distancing rules will be relaxed, the board opted to defer concerts in smaller venues until next year. Those include September’s Pops & Picnic at the Vern Burton Community Center and the chamber orchestra concerts previously scheduled for October, January and May at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles and Trinity United Methodist Church in Sequim.
Pasternack said the question is how to balance needed safety protocols with the symphony’s mission. The nonprofit organization, heading into its 88th season, was founded on the tenet of bringing high-quality orchestra performances to the community.
“Especially in these times,” Pasternack said, “the inspiration, solace and communion of live music would be a precious gift.”
In early March, Pasternack announced the cancellation of the symphony’s March and May performances.
“As heartbroken as we are about the cancellations, we’ve worked hard to design a new season,” he said.