PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT: Port Angeles-bred, world-traveled duo home for free concert

PORT ANGELES — It should be a romantic afternoon. Sweetly comic, even.

The Bottom Line Duo, a pair who met at Port Angeles High School and went on to share their music across North America and Europe, will return home to give a free concert this Thursday. The menu of the lunchtime interlude will run from Johann Sebastian Bach to the Beatles to something from the Romantic period to “Besame Mucho” on the ukulele.

That last song, which translates to “kiss me much,” suits the duo well. Traci and Spencer Hoveskeland are a happily married couple who work and play together, and whose delight in each other comes across in the blend of his double bass and her ­violoncello.

“I’ll come out and tell the audience: I’ve been Traci’s husband for 1,059 weeks now,” Spencer said this week in a telephone interview from their home in Seattle.

The couple brings their singular sound to bistros and symphony halls around the Northwest and beyond — and will start 2011 with a performance in the Little Theater at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

This is the season opener for the free, public Studium Generale series, whose 50-minute programs start at 12:35 p.m. each Thursday.

Traci Winters and Spencer Hoveskeland first crossed paths 25 years ago, when they were both freshman cellists at Port Angeles High.

Along with rave reviews of their concerts and information about their CDs, there’s a senior prom picture of them from their graduation year, 1989, on their website, www.Bottom LineDuo.com.

When it comes to giving credit to their original inspiration, Spencer and Traci are on the same page.

They were 5 years old when both sat on the floor of an elementary-school gym — hers at Dry Creek, his at the now-closed Fairview — for a concert by a local orchestra.

As the floor shook and pulsed with music, “I was blown away,” Traci remembers.

She and Spencer think it was the high school orchestra playing that day, but can’t recall for sure.

“All I remember is hearing that music,” says Traci. For her and for Spencer on the other side of town, it was electrifying.

And so the story unfolded: Spencer and Traci were part of the first Port Angeles High School Band that traveled, in 1989, to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. They performed with the Port Angeles Symphony, and went on to study with noted teachers at Western Washington University.

After graduation they served as artists-in-residence at the Fairbanks Music Festival in Alaska, and a couple of years after they relocated to Seattle, the Los Angeles Music Center sent the duo to represent the Los Angeles Philharmonic in England, where they played for Queen Elizabeth II.

Since then the Bottom Line Duo has continued to travel the world, to play in Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Mexico.

The spark for all of it came that day they sat and listened on the school-gym floor, Spencer says.

He and Traci did another trip last May that held great meaning: They performed at elementary schools across Clallam County, from Clallam Bay to Sequim, on a tour supported by the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra.

“It was a blast,” Traci says. “Hopefully we’re passing it on. Hopefully we’re inspiring the kids,” while affirming the value of music education.

The Bottom Line Duo also performed with the Port Angeles Symphony and at the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts in 2010. So how does it feel to come home and perform?

“It’s a great opportunity,” Traci says.

In more than 20 years of marriage and music-making, Spencer and Traci have traveled another kind of distance. They are only the third touring double bass-violoncello duo in history, Spencer says; the first was in 19th century Britain, and the second performed around Germany during the 1970s.

So the Bottom Line Duo composes their own music as well as arranging others’ pieces to suit their particular instruments. This comes across in unexpected ways: their signature rendition of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and a Ventures-Bangles medley, for example.

A Bottom Line performance can also include chamber music from the 19th century, tangos and Mexican folk music.

In between pieces, “we’ve got humor,” Spencer adds, and “ideas we want people to think about.”

Many people are convinced they don’t like classical music, he says. So he and Traci seek to reintroduce them to it, and demonstrate that this art form is accessible, even delectable.

They also like to show, through their performances, that “marriage is a good thing. Love is a good thing,” Spencer says. Also, “it’s OK to laugh;” the double bass and violoncello aren’t always as serious as they look.

Meanwhile, the musical dynamic that drives this duo is an apt metaphor for a marriage.

What each partner does relies on the other, Spencer says. Each is expressing him- or herself, while “I can’t sound good without her.”

In this combination, “you have constant support,” he adds, “and you’re allowing the other to shine.”

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