PORT ANGELES — As the Port Angeles Symphony prepares for the start of its new fiscal year July 1, the nonprofit orchestra’s board of directors has renewed and increased its contract with conductor and music director Jonathan Pasternack.
Pasternack, 48, who became conductor two years ago, is now renewed for another five years with the Port Angeles Symphony, a community orchestra founded in 1932.
Since his arrival, attendance of Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra performances has risen 24 percent, to an average of 1,159 people on concert Saturdays, according to a news release.
Pasternack programs the music for these concerts and conducts a public rehearsal and an evening performance, both in the Port Angeles High School auditorium, 304 E. Park Ave., five times per season. At these performances, the maestro gives a pre-concert chat and invites questions from the audience.
Pasternack also programs and conducts two Pops &Picnic concerts, one in Port Angeles and one in Sequim, plus six Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra performances, three in Sequim and three in Port Angeles.
All of the concerts have guest soloists from the local communities or from afar.
In addition to serving as music director, Pasternack is executive director of the Port Angeles Symphony. He took on this post in March 2016 when Mark Wendeborn retired after 19 years with the orchestra.
“It is a joy to hear that [Pasternack] has renewed his contract and will continue to be an integral member of our community for years to come,” said symphony concertmaster Heather Ray.
“Jonathan has brought fresh energy,” she added, by coupling his musical knowledge with the ability to inspire his orchestra.
During the 2017-18 season — which begins with the Pops &Picnic events in September — Pasternack will bring the orchestra together with vocalist Mark Lorentzen of Port Angeles; Young Artist Competition winner Lauren Rankin, also of Port Angeles; plus Russian-born pianist Alexander Tutunov, violist Cheryl Landry Swoboda and cellist Julian Schwarz. Guest conductors include Antoine Marguier of Geneva, Switzerland, and Kristin Quigley Brye of Port Angeles.
Also in the new season, Pasternack looks forward to working with Port Angeles High School’s new director of orchestras, James Ray.
Ray is the successor to Ron Jones, who taught music at the school for 42 years before retiring this spring.
“I am very interested in creating even stronger ties with the school district,” Pasternack said.
“I’m already in discussion with James — who is the magnificent choice to take Ron Jones’ place at the high school and somebody I’ve known for a dozen years — on how we can reach out to the area’s youth.”
This could include side-by-side performances with the Port Angeles Symphony and the Roughrider Orchestra and master classes with visiting soloists, he said.
Pasternack is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., and studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he founded and led the MIT Chamber Orchestra.
He holds graduate degrees from the University of Washington and has taught in universities and conservatories across the United States and Europe.
Among his awards are second prize at the 2002 Cadaques International Conducting Competition in Barcelona, Spain, where he was the only American invited to compete.
Man of many talents
In addition to playing multiple instruments — including the trombone at the symphony’s Summer Picnic at Camaraderie Cellars — Pasternack conducts concerts, operas and ballet productions around the globe.
The Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors selected Pasternack in May 2015 from a field of eight candidates. Board President Marie Meyers, also a flutist and percussionist in the orchestra, called the conductor an “encourager [and] a bridge builder.”
“He connects with people from all different walks of life,” she said.
“He doesn’t flaunt his stuff,” Meyers added. “He makes it easy for you to be yourself.”
The Port Angeles Symphony includes working professionals, retired men and women, and high school and college students. They come to rehearsals after full days of work or school, and from Joyce, Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend and other towns across the North Olympic Peninsula.
For his part, Pasternack said he’s grateful for every chance to make music — and to demonstrate his strong belief in the orchestra and its community.
Subscriptions to the Port Angeles Symphony’s 85th season are available.
For information about the symphony and its forthcoming events, call the office in downtown Port Angeles at 360-457-5579 or go to www.PortAngelesSymphony.org.