By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra
PORT ANGELES — On the menu: youthful energy, Bach and a brand-new “Dinner Suite.” This is the Port Angeles Symphony’s annual Concert & Cuisine, switched up this year with three prize-winning musicians: Marley, Adlai and Bina Erickson of Port Townsend.
The symphony fundraiser is set for Saturday at C’est Si Bon, the French restaurant just east of Port Angeles. The gourmet meal, wine and live music are included in the $75-per-person ticket. Tickets sold out Wednesday.
The three Ericksons, all top honorees at the symphony’s Young Artist Competition, will offer selections from J.S. Bach, Fritz Seitz and Camille Saint-Saëns. Then they will get together to play the short, freshly minted composition titled “Dinner Suite” — commissioned just for Concert & Cuisine.
Jerry Mader, a Whidbey Island-based composer and artistic director of the Whidbey Girls Choir, has written the suite especially for the Erickson siblings, having listened to 13-year-old Marley play a number of times.
‘She’s a prodigy’
“She doesn’t like it when I say she’s a prodigy, but she is,” said Mader, who met the teenager before she came to add a violin piece to the Girls Choir’s debut concert this past June.
“I’ve heard a lot of people play in my career,” he said, “and Marley has a core that is unique. You don’t see somebody that perceptive and sensitive very often.”
Marley, who has spent this past spring and summer traveling to music camps and competitions in Cambridge, London, Italy and Ohio, won first place in the Port Angeles Symphony’s 2016 Young Artist Competition earlier this year.
Symphony conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack invited her to play at Concert & Cuisine — and at the Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s season finale concerts next May.
Then, because Marley’s cellist brother Adlai, 10, and violinist sister Bina, 7, are winners of the symphony’s concurrent Junior Young Artists Competition — Adlai in 2015, Bina in 2016 — Pasternack asked if they might also like to perform with their sister at September’s Concert & Cuisine.
So the Erickson string trio was born. To pique their interest, composer Mader decided to write music about food, especially the kinds the three youngsters would like.
The first movement of “Dinner Suite” is titled “Hors d’oeuvres,” as the composer was thinking of fried calamari and shrimp. The second part, “Entree,” is an ode to trout amandine. Third and last is “Dessert,” a part inspired by chocolate mousse with raspberries.
“It is pretty exciting to have a piece written for us with this particular event in mind,” Marley said.
As for her brother, he looks forward to Saturday — but admits: “It was lots of work and took a lot of time to learn my own part. Modern music can be really tricky.
“But now that we are at the stage of putting the parts together, it is pretty cool.”
The cellist then quipped that he will be offering his autograph for free — but will accept donations for the PA Symphony.
To match the musical suite, C’est Si Bon chef Michele Juhasz is preparing several entrees: ratatouille for the vegetarian option, filet mignon, salmon in parchment with seafood and a stuffed Cornish game hen. Guests can select one of these when making their reservations.
Concert & Cuisine is also a time when music lovers can sign up to sponsor the soloists coming to perform with the Port Angeles Symphony through the coming season. These soloists include harpist Megan Bledsoe Ward in October, internationally known violinists Monique Mead in November and James Garlick in February, and pianist Anna Petrova in April.
The total cost of bringing the full slate of soloists to Port Angeles nears $10,000, Pasternack noted. Sponsors from the community help defray these costs and keep concert ticket prices down.
More about the forthcoming concert season, which begins with Pops & Picnic events in Sequim on Sept. 30 and Port Angeles on Oct. 1, awaits at www.PortAngelesSymphony.org.