PORT ANGELES — Ever since traveling to Bulgaria to lead a concert with the Plovdiv Symphony Orchestra, conductor Jonathan Pasternack has wanted to invite a particular pianist to Port Angeles.
She’ll soon arrive here to play with this community’s own orchestra: Anna Petrova, prize winner in competitions in Spain, Russia and Italy and an internationally known performer, is the guest artist in the Port Angeles Symphony’s Saturday concert.
In this last full-symphony orchestra performance of the 2016-2017 season, Petrova will offer Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
“This is a piece I’ve always wanted to play. I was so very excited when Jonathan said we could do it,” Petrova said.
“I love the music. I identify with it … I selfishly wanted to explore the genre and have fun with it,” Petrova said of the rhapsody, which many people know from the 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time” or perhaps the 2014 documentary “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory.”
The rhapsody is one of three works the Port Angeles Symphony will play in both the 10 a.m. final rehearsal, open to the public, and the 7:30 p.m. concert, both to take place at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., on Saturday.
For the 10 a.m. rehearsal, admission is $5 per person or $10 per family.
As always, the conductor will give a short pre-concert chat, taking questions from the audience, at 6:40 p.m.
Tickets to the evening concert range from $12 for students and seniors to $15 for general admission and $20 to $30 for premium reserved seats, while youngsters 16 and younger are admitted free with an adult.
Tickets are available from the symphony at 360-457-5579 and at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St. in Port Angeles, and The Joyful Noise Music Center, 112 W. Washington St. in Sequim.
To open, Pasternack will lead the 66-member orchestra in Richard Wagner’s lyrical “Good Friday Spell” from the opera “Parsifal”; then comes Petrova’s rhapsody and finally Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.
This last work, which Pasternack said is all about fate, hasn’t been performed in Port Angeles in many years.
There’s a certain harmony to Petrova’s visit. A year ago this month, another pianist, her husband, the Spanish-born Josu de Solaun, came to perform Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto with the Port Angeles Symphony — and drew two standing ovations.
So Petrova has “heard wonderful things” about Port Angeles audiences, from her mate and from her friend maestro Pasternack.
Does she feel competitive with her pianist spouse?
In the best way, yes.
“I think we are both very lucky to be with a colleague whom we can learn from and contribute to … to be on the same musical path,” she said, adding that they help each other prepare for their performances — and more important, they understand the desire to inspire their listeners.
The couple live in Houston, where they teach at Sam Houston State University. It’s where they met and became good friends with Pasternack, who also taught at Sam Houston before accepting the job of conductor and music director of the Port Angeles Symphony.
Pasternack’s way of working can be demanding, Petrova said.
“But it’s done with a good heart, with respect for the music and for the people at the same time. It’s a very fine balance,” she added.
Artists in the classical music world are starting to behave more like pop stars, steeped in promotion and egocentrism, Petrova said.
But she sees Pasternack as different.
Everything he does is in service to the music and the composer, Petrova said. This conductor steps out of the way to let the symphony work its magic.
That’s one of the reasons the pianist is full of anticipation for the April 22 concert. Another: Her parents, Petar and Tanya Petrova, are traveling from Bulgaria to Port Angeles to see her perform with the Port Angeles Symphony. They’ve been to the United States before, but never to the West Coast.
“It will be a celebration,” said the delighted Petrova.
Together with the orchestra — whose musicians come from across Clallam and Jefferson counties — Petrova hopes to lift the spirits of her listeners.
“You hope you give them a moment of a different reality,” she said.
“You hope to give something sublime.”