James Ray

James Ray

Port Angeles Symphony to perform tonight, Saturday

PORT ANGELES — A local schoolteacher, an internationally known pianist and a contemporary African-American composer are part of this weekend’s Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra concerts.

The two performances, which will feature Dvorak’s “Serenade for Winds,” Ernest Bloch’s first piano Concerto Grosso, and George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings,” will take place at:

• Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 E. Lopez Ave., today;

• Sequim Worship Center, 640 N. Sequim Ave., on Saturday.

Both concerts will start at 7 p.m. with general admission at $12.

Tickets for today’s and Saturday’s concerts are on sale at Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles and at The Joyful Noise Music Center in downtown Sequim.

For details and to purchase tickets by phone, call the Port Angeles Symphony office at 360-457-5579.

The community chamber orchestra, a 26-piece ensemble that’s part of the Port Angeles Symphony, will celebrate the work of Walker, a black composer who won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his 1996 work, “Lilacs.”

Jonathan Pasternack, the orchestra’s music director and conductor, corresponded with Walker, who is 94 — an unusual thing, because many of the composers heard in local concert halls are no longer living, such as Dvorak.

Guest conductor

Pasternack will conduct Walker’s “Lyric for Strings” and Bloch’s concerto, while the Dvorak serenade will be led by a guest conductor: Port Angeles School District music teacher James Ray.

Ray, the man who has taught many elementary school and middle school students how to play their first notes on a violin, cello or viola, is also an accomplished performing violinist and conductor, Pasternack noted.

Of these January concerts, Ray said he’s eager to “explore a piece that will feature some incredible musicians we have” in the local chamber ensemble.

The serenade has “an energy,” he said, “you can hardly help but be delighted by. And it’s all being done by our friends and neighbors.”

The featured soloist in these chamber concerts is the world-traveling Deborah Rambo Sinn, who happens to live and teach music in Sequim.

“The Bloch exudes joy and optimism,” Rambo Sinn said of the concerto she’s about to play.

“I find myself smiling when working on it.”

Magic in connection

Ray added that there’s magic in the connection between players and listeners.

“The fun of concert-going,” he said, “lies in the chance to revel in these musical moments together.”

For information about the rest of the concerts in the symphony’s season, go to portangelessymphony.org.

Deborah Rambo Sinn. (Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T)

Deborah Rambo Sinn. (Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T)

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