PORT ANGELES — “Be ready for the goosebumps,” narrator Lisa Bergman says.
With conductor Jonathan Pasternack and the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra, she’s about to appear in the opening concerts for the symphony’s 90th anniversary season.
These performances are titled Family Pops and, as is traditional, they are celebrations of music from the movies and the stage, alongside light classics. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave.
This is a change from previous years, noted music director and conductor Jonathan Pasternack. The orchestra formerly presented its pops concerts at Port Angeles’ Vern Burton Community Center and the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
But this year, Pasternack and the symphony board decided to take it to the auditorium, “where hearing the orchestra in those amazing acoustics is a very special experience,” the conductor said.
Tickets are available at portangelessymphony.org, at Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles and by phone at 360-457-5579.
As with all of the symphony’s concerts this season, admission is free for youngsters 18 and younger who come with a ticketed adult.
“If you haven’t heard music from ‘Star Wars’ played live by a full symphony orchestra, in a concert hall, this is your chance,” Pasternack said.
“Every year,” he added, “we will play one of the major works that introduces the instruments of the orchestra. First up is Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ played in its entirety,” and narrated by Bergman. She’s an announcer on Classical KING-FM of Seattle and relishes collaborating with the musicians to bring the story alive.
“It’s a masterpiece,” Bergman said, adding Prokofiev, a rare talent, makes “Peter and the Wolf” a meaningful experience for people of any age.
“Peter” is in good company at Family Pops, she said. Friday and Saturday’s program also features:
• Music from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera;”
• Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man;”
• Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla;
• John Phillip Sousa’s “El Capitan” march;
• The “Star Wars” suite by John Williams;
• “The Star-Spangled Banner” – arranged by Stravinsky — to open the concert;
• “America the Beautiful” as the finale.
“It will be a very dramatic concert,” said Bruce Kelley, the French horn player prominent in Copland’s soaring piece and in “Star Wars.”
That suite is going to be “out of this world,” Kelley quipped.
He added that it reminds him of his teenage self, seeing the movie over and over and playing the soundtrack album until the grooves were spent.
Kelley, who lives on Marrowstone Island, is among the musicians from across and beyond the Peninsula who are coming back to the concert stage. Performers from Port Ludlow, Port Angeles, Sequim, Poulsbo, Gig Harbor, Port Townsend and Victoria, B.C., are part of the orchestra this fall.
“The excitement in our rehearsals about performing our first full season since 2018-2019 is palpable,” Pasternack said.
“Pops is a high-energy program,” he added, “with the inspiring ‘Fanfare for the Common Man,’ by the quintessential American composer Aaron Copland.
This piece shows off our brilliant brass players,” including Kelley, Nicholas Jones, Krista Smith and Kat Creekmore on French horn; trumpeters Doug Brundage, Scott Meredith and John Stava; trombone players Hannah Reed, Matt Grey and Leland Matsumura, and Tyler Benedict on the tuba.
“We have so much to be grateful for during this 90th anniversary year of the symphony,” Pasternack said, “especially the incredible support we continue to enjoy from our community,” including patrons who have purchased season tickets.
After this weekend’s Family Pops, the orchestra will present 11 more concerts in Port Angeles and Sequim, with guest soloists including Spanish pianist Josu De Solaun, soprano Kristin Vogel and double-bassist Stephen Schermer.
Schermer, a Port Angeles native, will rejoin the orchestra for the world premiere of a concerto Seattle guest composer Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte has created for the Port Angeles Symphony.
This diverse community orchestra has survived — and thrived — since its founding during the Great Depression, Pasternack emphasized, thanks to local people’s love of live music.
“The quality of the performances is remarkable. That Port Angeles has such a wonderful symphony enriches my life and the community,” said Diane Williams of Port Angeles, a longtime concert-goer.