PORT ANGELES — Eighty years ago, the renowned 20th-century composer Benjamin Britten created music for his beloved: the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.
This is a beautiful work, said horn player Allison Tutton – most of all because Britten composed it for his life partner, tenor Peter Pears. The couple had left England in 1939; both pacifists and musicians, they went to live together in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Serenade premiered in 1943.
“A piece is really special,” Tutton said, “when it’s written for someone you love.”
Britten’s Serenade is the centerpiece of two concerts presented by the Port Angeles Symphony this week: at 7 p.m. Friday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 Lopez Ave. in Port Angeles, and at 7 p.m. Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., Sequim.
Tickets are available at portangelessymphony.org and also will be sold at the door; for more information, phone the symphony office at 360-457-5579. General admission is $15 while 18 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a ticketed patron.
Tutton is one of two featured soloists, and will travel from her home in Albuquerque, N.M., back to the place where she grew up.
“In these two concerts, we again get to highlight a homegrown musician who’s made a successful career beyond the Peninsula,” said Jonathan Pasternack, music director and conductor of the Port Angeles Symphony.
Also joining the orchestra as a soloist is tenor Eric Rieger, who’s making his first trip to the North Olympic Peninsula from his adopted city of Tallahassee, Fla.
The singer, who teaches at Florida State University, has performed with orchestras in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Luxembourg and London.
With its interplay of music and poetry, Britten’s Serenade “is one of my all-time favorite pieces,” Rieger said. To him, it’s about innocence, growing up, and where we find solace.
“It’s such an interesting combination of tenor and strings,” Rieger added; “one I adore.”
The tenor, who over the past two years has done his share of performing and teaching online, expressed his gratitude for this week’s concerts.
“I just think it’s a gift,” he said, “to experience this kind of music and poetry live, all together in a room.”
Surrounding the Serenade are Edvard Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, George Butterworth’s Romance for Horn and Strings, and W.A. Mozart’s Divertimento in B flat Major.
“These works will transport the listener,” Pasternack said.
Tutton, for her part, can hardly wait to perform with Rieger and the orchestra. She first picked up the horn at age 9, as a homeschooled student in Port Angeles. Her parents took her to a concert by a wind quintet and asked her whether she might like to play one of those instruments. From the start, the horn was the one.
As a teenager, Tutton flew with Ron Jones’ Port Angeles High School orchestra to play Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2005.
“It was really cool,” she recalled; and it was only the start of her transcontinental travels. Tutton went on to earn degrees at the Boston Conservatory and Chicago College of Performing Arts, and played in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is now a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony — and flies to the Midwest regularly to perform with the Quad City Orchestra in Iowa and Illinois.
Also playing in the chamber orchestra Friday and Saturday: Seattle-based cellist Michael Center. He was the featured soloist in Haydn’s C major concerto three Januaries ago, the last time before now that Pasternack led the ensemble in concerts in both Port Angeles and Sequim.
Friday and Saturday’s concerts mark the first time in three years that the Port Angeles Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra will present live, in-person performances in two cities.
Part of the symphony’s 90th anniversary season, they mark the community orchestra’s return to its more intimate venues in Sequim and Port Angeles.
Full Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra concerts are coming in February, March and May to the 1,100-seat Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, while two more Chamber Orchestra performances in the smaller venues are set for May.