PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Barrage to bring energetic style to Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — A lot of virtual hooting and hollering goes on around Barrage’s presence.

“I LOOOVE Barrage. They came to my school. And my school’s orchestra formed a mob pit by the stage,” a commenter called Reko­kitty writes under “Front Porch Jam,” one of the numerous performance clips that appear when one searches online for “Barrage videos.”

“Buenisimo” — terrific — writes a Spanish-speaking fan, while a French viewer adds, “Je frissonne,” as in “I shudder with pleasure.”

Barrage, an eight-member collision of violins, singing, leaping and dancing, comes to Port Angeles High School’s auditorium next Friday, May 13, in one stop on its “Animado” world tour.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert are $20 for adults and $15 for youth 17 and younger; they’re available in advance at Remaining seats will be sold at the door of the auditorium on the campus at 304 E. Park Ave.

That tour name, animado, is the Spanish word for lively — which might be an understatement. Barrage’s players swagger and slither across the stage, then erupt in high kicks while continuing to wield their bows with ferocious speed.

The group originated in Calgary, Alberta, 15 years ago, and has since built a repertoire that whips just about any style — Bach, “Bolero,” Celtic reels, rock ‘n’ roll — into a fiddling frenzy.

Barrage stars stylishly dressed violinists plus a drummer, bassist and additional guitarist; the front-line females, instead of wearing the typical classical-music performer’s blouse and long skirt, shimmy and jump in camisoles and slim-fitting black pants.

Each show is “a highly athletic, choreographed performance 
. . . and there’s nothing we can’t play on the violin,” Barrage founding producer Tony Moore said in a telephone interview this week.

“We’re classically trained musicians who play a variety, from classical to gypsy to Chinese music, all in the same show.”

Barrage also has a relatively high turnover, as Moore hires college graduates with newly minted music-performance degrees.

“This is usually their first job out of university,” he said, adding that being part of Barrage means living out of a suitcase.

The band performed in Zacatecas and then Guadalajara, Mexico, in late April, and will continue in the Pacific Northwest to play in Redmond and Puyallup, then Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Nanaimo, B.C., this month.

Then it’s back down to Los Angeles for a concert there before a trip to China at the end of May, to Italy in July and to Argentina in August.

The May 13 date here is the second time Barrage has come to Port Angeles. The troupe was part of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts 10 years ago, recalled Karen Hanan, the festival’s founder and now the executive director of Arts Northwest, the organization hosting Barrage this time around.

Moore said he remembers a hotel room by the water and not much else.

“That was 5,000 shows ago,” he estimated.

In his travels with the band, Moore has observed a pronounced difference in audiences north and south of the U.S.-Canada border.

“Americans are an easy audience to play for. They’re not afraid to show their enthusiasm,” he said.

“That’s easier for a performer to feed off of. Canadians are much more like British people,” with a tendency to keep the proverbial stiff upper lip.

The same goes for two other nations in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Australians are more like Americans,” Moore said, “and New Zealanders are more like British people.”

Barrage’s concert is a fundraiser for the Arts Northwest Scholarship Program for young musicians and other artists.

For more information about Arts Northwest, phone 360-457-9290 or visit

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