IN THE PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Symphony brings Haydn's work to life

IN THE PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Symphony brings Haydn’s work to life

PORT ANGELES — Let’s get this out of the way right off: Saturday’s Port Angeles Symphony concerts spotlight a pair of soloists who used to be married to each other.

Fortunately for listeners, they continue to get along famously.

Symphony music director and conductor Adam Stern, also a pianist, will collaborate with his former wife Kathleen Boyer, a violinist, to offer a concert titled “Genius, Goodness, Propriety, Benevolence: Haydn’s Symphony No. 101” this Saturday.

The Haydn work is, Boyer believes, “an absolute, perfect gem.”

Stern, meantime, calls it “so refined, humorous and perfectly proportioned.”

And Haydn’s symphony isn’t the only work on Saturday’s agenda. Those who come to either the 10 a.m. rehearsal or the 7:30 p.m. concert in the Port Angeles High School auditorium, 304 E. Park Ave., will also hear Verdi’s “Ivespri Siciliani” overture and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C, featuring Seattle cellist Mara Finkelstein.

“I thought it would be fun to have a Haydn symphony

. . . flanked by music by two of the most tempestuous of all composers: Verdi, with his Italian passions shamelessly on view in the Sicilian Vespers overture, and Beethoven,” said Stern.

On this program, “we have a mix here of three of the most indisputably great composers who ever lived.”

Stern noted too that Haydn’s 101st is nicknamed the “Clock” Symphony, for the tongue-in-cheek tick-tock accompaniment in its second movement. And as the conductor and pianist always does with the symphony’s evening concerts, he will expand on his musical selections during a pre-concert talk at 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

Back in 2008 when Stern and Boyer were still married, they played Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante together in a Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra concert; afterward Stern invited Boyer to perform a concerto with the Port Angeles Symphony, and promised her carte blanche in her choice of repertoire.

“To my astonishment, she chose Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, with the added stipulation that I play the piano solo part and conduct from the keyboard,” Stern reported this week.

“I then asked Kathy, ‘Who would be your first choice for the cello part ­— someone with whom we’d get along both musically and personally? Her first thought was Mara [Finkelstein], another lovely player who should be in the solo spotlight more than she is.”

Finkelstein, who studied cello at the Tchaikovksy Conservatory in Moscow before coming to the United States in 1989, has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and is principal cellist with the Northwest Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra and a founding member of the Europa Piano Trio.

In an email interview this week, Finkelstein said she can scarcely wait to present Beethoven’s Triple Concerto on Saturday. It’s a piece filled with “joy and optimism, shining through beautiful melodies. It is equally fun to listen, to watch, and perform,” the cellist noted.

“It is even more enjoyable because I get to play it with two incredible musicians who are also my friends,” she said of Stern and Boyer. “Even though we have never played together before, working on this piece has been a blast.”

Boyer, for her part, said she too is thrilled to be playing the Beethoven as well as the Verdi, which she calls a sample of operatic music that “simply sweeps me off my feet and into a different world.”

A member of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera orchestras since 1985, Boyer has also performed with the Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra; she came to Seattle from the New School of Music in Philadelphia, where she was a scholarship student of the late Jascha Brodsky.

The violinist added that she and Stern were together for 15 years; they performed in the Seattle Symphony together for nine years while he was its assistant and associate conductor.

“We have always gotten along well musically … We have collaborated on many, many sonatas and concertos,” Boyer said.

To those who don’t ordinarily go to Port Angeles Symphony concerts, she has encouraging words: “While I wouldn’t call it an ‘easy listening’ program, it is all terrific, tonal, beautiful music that will be played with ebullience,” Boyer said. “We will have a lot of fun on stage, and I think the audience will too.”

Tickets to the 10 a.m. rehearsal are $5 per person or $10 per family, while general admission to the 7:30 p.m. performance is $15, or $12 for seniors and students. Ticket outlets include Port Book & News, 104 E. First St., and BeeDazzled at The Buzz, 130 N. Sequim Ave. in Sequim. Reserved seats range from $20 to $30, with tickets available in advance at the Port Angeles Symphony office, 216-C N. Laurel St. General and reserved-seating tickets will also be sold at the door Saturday night. For complete details, phone the symphony office at 360-457-5579.

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