Tribute concert to celebrate Peninsula music man’s love of music

Dewey Ehling died Aug. 7 of pneumonia at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle at the age of 87.

Dewey Ehling

Dewey Ehling

PORT ANGELES — The best way to memorialize the North Olympic Peninsula’s music man is by performing his favorite music.

That’s the decision made by Hollie Kaufman, Dewey Ehling’s assistant with the Port Townsend Community Orchestra, and Ehling’s wife, Lauretta, Kaufman said Friday.

Ehling — known as the “music man” for his 30 years of teaching and conducting on the Peninsula with the Port Townsend Community Orchestra, the Peninsula Singers and many other groups — died Aug. 7 of pneumonia at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle at the age of 87.

All the musicians who performed under his tutelage are invited to participate in the memorial concert planned at 3 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Port Angeles High School’s Performing Arts Center at 304 E. Park Ave.

“A tribute concert is the most honoring thing we can do for him,” Kaufman said. “This is a chance for local musicians to play for him one last time.”

Anyone who had played in an orchestra with Ehling or sung with the Peninsula Singers is welcome, she said.

Ehling was also active with Olympic Theatre Arts, the Port Angeles Symphony, The Ballet Workshop, Port Angeles Light Opera Association, Readers Theatre Plus, Port Angeles Community Players and Sequim Community Aid — the latter for whom he led Handel’s “Messiah” singalong as a Christmas-season fundraiser.

He enjoyed conducting major works by renowned artists such as Bach, Mozart and Brahms, his friends have said.

Musicians who want to participate in the memorial concert are asked to contact organizers by Sunday, Sept. 18, to give them time to make copies of music for them. Vocalists are asked to reach Connie Jenkins at 360-797-1133 or [email protected], while instrumentalists are asked to contact Sonya Shipley at 209-585-7432 or [email protected].

The music will be Ehling’s most cherished pieces, Kaufman said.

“The Peninsula Singers will be doing some of his favorite works,”she said. “A variety of people who have worked with Dewey will perform his favorite music.”

Among them will be Robin Reed, who will lend his tenor voice to an aria and a Peninsula Singers quartet.

Kaufman, a bassoonist, will conduct.

The concert will be free, although donations for the rental of the center will be accepted.

The rehearsal for instrumental works will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 27. Rehearsal for vocalists will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 30.

One run-through rehearsal with both groups is planned at 1 p.m. the day of the concert.

All rehearsals will be in the performing arts center.

Ehling, who moved to Port Angeles from Alaska in 1986, became musical director and conductor for the Peninsula Singers in 1990 and the Port Townsend Community Orchestra in 1995.

In 2010, he was named by the Washington Music Educators Association as one of the outstanding educators of the Pacific Northwest.

In 2011, Ehling received a Clallam County Community Service Award for his involvement with theatrical, cultural and community-aid groups.

Before the music begins at the tribute concert, there will be a presentation of the colors in honor of Ehling, who was always a proud Marine, Kaufman said.

The first music performed will be the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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