Seven vocal soloists featured in music of West Side Story during Season Opening

Symphony Tacoma will open its 2017-2018 Season with the first official observance of the highly anticipated Bernstein Centennial in the Pacific Northwest. Music Director Sarah Ioannides, whose contract with the Symphony was recently extended through 2024, will present a program featuring music from the composer/conductor’s most famous musical, West Side Story; his film score for On the Waterfront; and his opera Candide.

Joining her will be the Symphony Tacoma Voices and a cast of seven vocal soloists: Tess Altiveros as Maria, Elizabeth Galafa as Anita and Francisca, Bianca Raiso as Rosalia, Dawn Padula as Consuela, John Marzano as Tony, John Arthur Greene as Riff, and Caisey Raiha as Bernardo.

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 21 in the Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma. Click here for tickets.

Praised for “a ripe, sensual lyric soprano” (Opera News), soprano Tess Altiveros will sing the role of Maria.  Recent engagements include Seattle Opera’s critically acclaimed The Combat, St. Matthew Passion (Colorado Symphony), Don Giovanni (Skylark Opera Theatre), La Bohème (Colorado Symphony), Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem (Seattle Pro Musica), and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Angels & Demons Entertainment).  Other recent credits include The Turn of the Screw (Eugene Opera), Don Giovanni (Juneau Lyric Opera), Die Fledermaus (Opera Coeur d’Alene), La Voix Humaine (Vespertine Opera Theater), Carmen (Opera Fairbanks).  A native Seattleite, Tess just completed her ninth season singing for the Seattle Mariners.

Mezzo-Soprano Elizabeth Galafa—singing the roles of Anita and Francisca—was born in Southern California and raised in Florida. Two years after completing her Master’s at the University of Michigan, she married and moved to the Pacific Northwest. Among her concert credits, she sang in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges in her final U. of M. performance. She also performed in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos under conductor Kamal Khan. Arts at Michigan wrote, “Elizabeth Galafa was a force of nature… it was impossible to take one’s eyes off her.”

Mezzo-soprano Bianca Raso will perform as Rosalia.  An alumna of the University of South Carolina, she is familiar to Tacoma audiences from her recent appearance in La Périchole with Tacoma Opera. In July, she performed with The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society in H.M.S. Pinafore. Additional performance credits include Stellaluna with the Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Yeomen of the Guard with Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and LionFish Production’s Never The Sinner. A native of Toronto, Raso lives with her husband in Seattle.

Mezzo-soprano Dawn Padula appears as Consuela. A versatile performer of opera, oratorio, musical theatre, jazz and classical, Dr. Padula is Director of Vocal Studies at the University of Puget Sound. She recently toured Bulgaria with the Pazardzhik Symphony in performances of Mozart’s Requiem. In August, she released her first classical solo album, Gracious Moonlight. Padula has performed with the Tacoma and Kitsap operas, Concert Opera of Seattle, and Puget Sound Concert Opera; and has concertized with the Oregon Symphony, Seattle Bach Choir, and Second City Chamber Series, among others.

Tenor John Marzano—singing the role of Tony—was born and raised in Tacoma. He earned his Bachelor’s at PLU, studying under Barry Johnson. A frequent performer with the operas of Seattle, Vashon and PLU, Marzano’s recent appearances include Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Die Zauberflöte, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Britten’s Albert Herring, and Bizet’s Carmen. On the concert stage, he has performed with the Tacoma Youth Symphony, PLU Orchestra, Choral Union, and Choir of the West, among others.

John Arthur Greene is no stranger to the role of Riff, the leader of the Jets, since his first appearance in the Broadway production of West Side Story at age 20. A native of North Carolina, Greene grew up listening to all types of music, including classical, opera, jazz, rock, blues, soul—and especially Broadway. At age 18 he performed on tour as Action in West Side Story; two years later the late great director Arthur Laurents invited him to play the role of Riff.  Current roles include Theo in School of Rock, Luke in Mim, and Jonathan in Tick Tick Boom, to name a few. He performs all over New York, and his singles “Easy” and “Brooklyn,” as well as his Debut EP, Shadows Of Light, are available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube.

Casey Raiha, appearing as Bernardo, has been a featured soloist for Masterworks Choral Ensemble, the Olympia Choral Society, and Seattle Unity Church. Specializing in Musical Theatre, Casey also performs in Shakespeare, pantomime, dance and vocal recitals, concerts, Cabarets, radio dramas, staged readings, and improv. Recent appearances include South Pacific with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Singin’ in the Rain with Village Theatre. He has performed in venues all over the Pacific Northwest, including Benaroya Hall, Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, and The Washington Center in Olympia.

The global celebration titled “Leonard Bernstein at 100” officially began on August 25, 2017 and continues for exactly one full year.  Composer, conductor, educator, pianist, cultural ambassador—Leonard Bernstein filled all these roles and more with aplomb.  Igor Stravinsky admiringly termed him “a department store of music.”  Bernstein received his first permanent conducting job in 1943, serving as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. On November 14, 1943, he was called upon to substitute for an ailing Bruno Walter at Carnegie Hall.  Broadcast nationally on radio, the concert caused an instant sensation and made Bernstein a celebrity almost overnight.

As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, he led more concerts with the orchestra than any previous conductor.  His famed Young People’s Concerts were broadcast on national television for 14 seasons, well beyond his tenure as Music Director. For an entire generation, Bernstein came to exemplify and symbolize a new, distinctly American classical maestro: young, handsome, charismatic, approachable, debonair, passionate, and compassionate.

West Side Story, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is set in 1950s New York City, with the Montagues being replaced by the Anglo Jets, and the Capulets by the rival Puerto Rican Sharks.  The magical partnership of Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim resulted in energetic, emotional music paired with clever, memorable lyrics.

West Side Story rapidly entered mainstream culture and remains there to this day.  Bernstein’s music has been covered by jazz musicians like Buddy Rich, Oscar Peterson, Stan Kenton and Chick Corea; and rock and pop artists such as Little Richard, Keith Emerson, Alice Cooper, Selena, Trisha Yearwood, and Salt-n-Pepa, among many more.

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Leonard Bernstein: America’s Musical Department Store

Composer, conductor, educator, pianist, cultural ambassador—Leonard Bernstein filled all these roles and more with aplomb.  Igor Stravinsky admiringly termed him “a department store of music.”

The global celebration titled “Leonard Bernstein at 100” officially began on August 25, 2017 and continues for exactly one full year; Symphony Tacoma’s season opening concert on Saturday, October 21 featuring Bernstein’s music is among the earliest events worldwide—and first in the South Sound.

Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Leonard Bernstein grew up during a time when Western music was exploding with different sounds and styles.  Still recovering from the 1913 premiere of Rite of Spring, the classical world was set reeling again just six years later when—in a seeming complete about-face—Stravinsky launched into his sparse, crisp Neoclassical period with L’Histoire du Soldat.  Meanwhile, Schoenberg’s Second Viennese School was busy advancing its new Twelve-Tone system, a controversial method that did away with all vestiges of tonality.  Bartok was incorporating percussiveness, rhythmic irregularity, and Eastern European folk music into his compositions.  Varese was introducing a highly experimental musical aesthetic he termed “organized sound.” Electronic music was heard for the first time with the introduction of the theremin.  Escaping from its Ragtime cradle, Jazz was radiating from the hottest clubs of New Orleans, St. Louis, and Chicago, influencing composers from Copland to Milhaud, Ravel to Shostakovich.  Radio and vinyl records made listening in the privacy of your home, whenever you liked, widespread for the first time.

It must have been a heady mix for a budding young musician!

Bernstein received his first permanent conducting job in 1943, serving as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. On November 14, 1943, he was called upon to substitute (on a scant several hours’ notice, with no rehearsal, and after a night out partying) for an ailing Bruno Walter at Carnegie Hall.  Broadcast nationally on radio, the concert caused an instant sensation and made Bernstein a celebrity almost overnight.

As Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, he led more concerts with the orchestra than any previous conductor.  His famed Young People’s Concerts were broadcast on national television for fourteen seasons, well beyond his tenure as Music Director. For an entire generation, Bernstein came to exemplify and symbolize a new, distinctly American classical maestro:  young, handsome, charismatic, approachable, debonair, passionate, and compassionate.  (Though he had his critics: Oscar Levant famously quipped “he uses music as an accompaniment to his conducting.”)

His fame as conductor tended to overshadow that of composer, but in works spanning chamber music, symphonies, opera, film and Broadway, Bernstein revealed himself as a gifted composer who gathered, absorbed and synthesized the sounds of his age—from Neoclassicalism to jazz—and made them his own.    According to conductor John Mauceri, he projected a message “of understanding and hope employing both complex and simple forms and styles—yet always sounding like ‘Bernstein.’”

 

Single Tickets go on sale for 2017-2018 Concert Season

The first official observance of the highly anticipated Bernstein Centennial in the Pacific Northwest. The West Coast debut of Opus X, the acclaimed crossover quartet that is putting a new spin on music from Handel to Led Zeppelin. The U.S. Premiere of Swedish composer Marie Samuelsson’s 2016 The Eros Effect and Solidarity. The Tacoma solo debuts of pianist Andrew Tyson, cellist Efe Baltacigil, and Met soprano Kelly Cae Hogan. Symphony Tacoma’s 2017-2018 Season—on sale to the general public next Wednesday, August 15—abounds with firsts.

Available only via season ticket purchase since its unveiling last March, the season has generated record response, having already surpassed last year’s total revenue numbers.  Excitement reached a new level in June when the Symphony announced it had extended the contract of Sarah Ioannides, its charismatic new music director, through 2024. Moreover, 2017-2018 marks the final season before the Symphony’s main home venue, the Pantages Theater, closes for a full year for an extensive refit.

“Tacoma’s musical community is still elated by the news of Sarah Ioannides’ extension,” said Executive Director Andy Buelow. “This represents a huge vote of confidence on her part, not only in the Symphony, but in Tacoma’s vibrant future. Since her arrival attendance and audience engagement have grown exponentially, and the Orchestra is playing at a new artistic level.”

“Being here in Tacoma is a complete pleasure,” Ioannides said. “There is a whole community renaissance building around arts and culture—with a compelling, distinct identity. It’s the perfect environment to reinvent the Symphony for a new generation.”

Ioannides’ optimism is borne out in both citywide statistics and the organization’s own numbers. A recent survey by Americans for the Arts showed a combined economic impact of more than $86 million by Tacoma’s arts and cultural organizations. The Symphony’s concert revenue has grown 60% in just five seasons, and both individual giving and corporate support are up 50%.

The News Tribune recently declared Symphony Tacoma “an integral part of our city’s culture and communal spirit.”

The season kicks off Friday, October 20 with a West Side Story-themed Gala at Tacoma Art Museum, including a gourmet dinner, silent and live auction, and live entertainment. The signature event generates vital funding for Symphony Tacoma’s growing youth education program.

The opening concert at the Pantages Theater, just 24 hours later, exclusively features music by Leonard Bernstein, highlighted by his legendary West Side Story.  Two suites from the landmark 1958 musical will be performed, one of which includes treasured tunes like “I Feel Pretty,” “Tonight,” and “The Jet Song.”

Last week, auditions were announced for the seven major vocal roles of the musical. The soloists will provide a sneak preview of the concert during the Friday night Gala, and then take center stage at the Pantages the following evening.  Also in the spotlight will be the acclaimed Symphony Tacoma Voices, directed by Dr. Geoffrey Boers.

The remainder of the concert lineup—from November through May—sports such blockbusters as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Handel’s Messiah, Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 (its first performance by Symphony Tacoma), and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, among others.

The season concludes on May 12 with another Symphony Tacoma first: an evening of works by Richard Wagner, including the Overture to Die Meistersinger, Ride of the Valkyries, and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, featuring Ms. Hogan.  The music of this greatest of all German Romantics is paired with French composer Francis Poulenc’s 1961 Gloria, called “riotously wild, spiky, and humorous” by The Observer.

For more information, call 800-291-7593 or 253-591-5894.

 

Download press release – click here.

Symphony Tacoma announces vocal auditions for Bernstein Centennial Concert featuring music from West Side Story

The first official observance of the highly anticipated Bernstein Centennial in the Pacific Northwest will be presented by Symphony Tacoma in its Season Opening Concert, held in Tacoma’s Pantages Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 21.  The full evening of works by Leonard Bernstein will feature music from his legendary West Side Story, including the Symphonic Dances and Suite No. 2—which contains such classic songs as “I Feel Pretty,” “America,” “Tonight,” “The Jet Song,” and more.  The concert will frontline seven vocal soloists and the 70-person Symphony Tacoma Voices, along with the 80-piece Symphony Tacoma under the leadership of Music Director Sarah Ioannides.

Symphony Tacoma has announced vocal auditions for the seven roles:  Maria, Anita, Rosalia, Consuela, Tony, Riff and Bernardo.  Applicants are asked to upload a private Youtube video of themselves performing, with piano accompaniment, the songs for their desired vocal part, and to send the private link and a performance resume to Symphony Tacoma at auditions@symphonytacoma.org. Finalists will participate in a live audition at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31 at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Studio 3.

“At Symphony Tacoma, we strive to put community first, going beyond tradition to surprise and captivate,” said Music Director Sarah Ioannides.  “This concert represents an opportunity for area singers, from gifted amateurs to seasoned pros, to take the stage with a full symphony orchestra performing some of the most exciting and beautiful American music of all time.”

For more information about applying, please click here.

Symphony Announces Contract Extension of Music Director Sarah Ioannides

Symphony Tacoma has extended the contract of Music Director Sarah Ioannides through the 2023-2024 Season, Board President Clark D’Elia announced today. Described by The New York Times as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority,” Sarah Ioannides arrived in 2014-2015 after a two-year international search. Her tenure has brought a new level of artistic vibrancy to the Tacoma-based performing arts organization, distinguished by her inclusive leadership style and progressive artistic sensibility.

“We are delighted to announce the extension of Maestra Ioannides’ contract,” stated D’Elia. “In just three seasons, the changes she has implemented—both artistic and programmatic—have been remarkable. She has wholeheartedly embraced and been embraced by the community, building the Orchestra’s artistic capacity, forging collaborative relationships, and bringing a new caliber of guest artists to the concert stage. The Board is extremely pleased with the results, and we look forward to continuing this fruitful partnership for years to come.”

Under Ioannides’ leadership, Symphony Tacoma has worked dexterously to honor the canon of classical works while also taking the audience on new musical excursions and engaging the wider community beyond the concert hall. The recent NEA-funded performance of Daniel Ott’s Fire-Mountain, dedicated to raising awareness of Mount Rainier’s rapidly melting glaciers, incorporated the Museum of Glass, Hilltop Artists, Lincoln High School, and the National Park Service as collaborators. The News Tribune called it “A culmination of creativity, education, outreach and advocacy that touched our community and brought people together in a powerful shared experience.”

Last season’s performance of Tan Dun’s Water Passion was an explosive tour-de-force of symphony, Chinese opera and theater, leading The News Tribune to proclaim, “With imagination, skill and engagement… the Symphony is an integral part of our city’s culture and communal spirit.” Performances such as these demonstrate Ioannides’ unique skill as a musical curator who embraces the vital tension between tradition and innovation.

Since her arrival, the season has expanded to include additional Classics concerts and repeat performances in Gig Harbor at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church. Attendance has increased significantly, and performance revenue overall has grown by 60%.

Under Ioannides’ leadership, the Symphony has added new education and community engagement programs and made important changes to existing ones. Last season, the organization presented a free community concert that featured Tacoma Youth Symphony musicians performing in a “side-by-side” format with Symphony Tacoma musicians. 2016 marked the pilot year of Symphony Coaches, a program embedding principal string players in three underserved high schools—Foss, Mount Tahoma and Lincoln—to bolster their string orchestra programs. The fledgling program received high marks from teachers and students and has been expanded this season. Ioannides also used her national influence to bring Carnegie Hall’s acclaimed “Link Up” curriculum to the Symphony’s Simply Symphonic series of concerts for fourth and fifth grade students, enhancing the long-standing program with state-of-the-art curriculum materials and interactive performance features.

One of the top 20 female conductors worldwide, according to Lebrecht’s 2016 “Woman Conductors: The Power List,” Sarah Ioannides was cited as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium” by the Los Angeles Times and noted in The New York Times as part of “a new wave of female conductors in their late 20s through early 40s.” In April she attended the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi, the world’s first event convening leaders from the worlds of the arts, media, public policy and technology to address the role of culture in the rapidly-changing modern world. In May, she performed her final concerts as Music Director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra of South Carolina.

As a guest conductor she has appeared internationally with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Nationale de Lyon, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Flemish Radio Orchestra, National Symphony of Colombia, Daejeon Philharmonic, Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Wuttenbergisches Kammerorchester, and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

Ioannides has also led orchestras extensively in the United States including the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics and the orchestras of Chattanooga, Charleston, Louisville, New Haven, New West, North Carolina, Toledo and Tulsa. A protégé of the late Otto­Werner Mueller, Ioannides has appeared in special engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra working with Pierre Boulez and Esa­Pekka Salonen.

Formerly the Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ioannides was the first woman appointed to its full-time conducting staff. She also held appointments as Music Director of the El Paso Symphony and Spartanburg Philharmonic, guest Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs, and Music Director of Oxford University. Her extensive and diverse experience in orchestral, choral, operatic, new works and multimedia performance is equal to her passion to support learning and music education. She continues to coach orchestra at high-level conservatories such as Yale University, Curtis Institute, Chicago College of Performing Arts.

A zealous supporter of living composers, Ioannides has conducted over 40 World, North American and European premieres. Under her leadership, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Tacoma have received ArtWorks grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, both for creativity in collaborations, commissioning and community involved projects. She has both commissioned and directed films for live orchestral multimedia performances, including Holst’s The Planets and Steve Reich’s The Desert Music. During the summer of 2016 she was producer and advisor for a new multimedia art film to accompany Darius Milhaud’s Creation du Monde, directed by Brad McCombs, using artwork selected from the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as her own personal paintings and collections internationally; the multimedia performance was premiered at Cincinnati’s Summermusik Festival 2016.

Ioannides has collaborated regularly with composer/conductor Tan Dun, serving as his Assistant Conductor & Production Coordinator between 1999 and 2003. As such, she conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Flemish Radio Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Oregon Bach Festival. In 2005, she was selected by Tan Dun to conduct his Water Passion After St. Matthew at the Perth International Arts Festival. Opera­Opera depicted Ioannides lyrical conducting technique as one “with the most persuasive of gentle textures, she coaxed from the performers an extraordinary array of sounds. She was grace personified.” Ioannides has led many operas and conducted festivals worldwide, including the European premiere of Stephen Paulus’ The Woodlanders, British Youth Opera, Curtis Opera Theatre, Spoleto Festival and Philadelphia Opera Company, Perth International Festival.

Ioannides began performing as a violinist in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in the UK and horn player in the Surrey County Youth Orchestra from the age of 11. With Masters degrees from Oxford University (Instrumental Scholar) and the Juilliard School of Music (Bruno Walter Award), Ioannides studied conducting, violin, piano, singing and French Horn. A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, following studies at the Guildhall School of Music, she came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar attending the Curtis Institute of Music. Serving on numerous advisory boards, as a competition adjudicator, and public speaker, she has served as panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts for the US Government.

Symphony Tacoma to perform free concert during Festival of Sail

TACOMA, WA — Festival of Sail® Tacoma 2017 will offer a rare chance to catch a glimpse, step aboard, and even set sail on some of the grandest ships of yore. From June 15 through 18, Tacoma will be one of only a handful of Pacific ports that will host the historic ships. Festival of Sail® Tacoma 2017 promises to be the largest event in our region’s history featuring ship tours, day sails, educational programming, food and beverage—and Symphony!

Led by Music Director Sarah Ioannides, Symphony Tacoma will present a free concert at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 17 on the waterfront at Thea’s Park.  The program will feature popular and nostalgic music from films, American history, and the nautical world. This rousing outdoor performance will truly set the stage for a memorable afternoon in the community, with the massive, traditional-rig sailing vessels as a backdrop!

The Festival of Sail will provide a well-rounded, outdoor educational activity for area residents, centered around our community’s maritime past and present. Activities will include the grand Parade of Sail, mock battles, ship tours and historical talks, day sails, youth programs, food and drink, and culture—of which the Symphony’s concert promises to be the highlight!

The program will include such favorites as Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, music from Titanic, Rodgers & Bennett’s Victory at Sea, Gliere’s Russian Sailors Dance, and more.  The performance is underwritten by The Anderson Family Fund and by Drs. Les & Estelle Reid.  Corporate sponsors include General Plastics, Marine Floats, and Titus Will Enterprises.

Inspiring audiences with live musical experiences that transcend tradition, the newly-renamed Symphony Tacoma (formerly Tacoma Symphony Orchestra) has been a vital part of Tacoma’s cultural landscape for 70 years. In 2014, Symphony Tacoma welcomed new music director Sarah Ioannides, whom the Los Angeles Times called “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium.”  Keeping live musical performance alive in the heart of the region, Symphony Tacoma concertizes for an annual audience of nearly 20,000 citizens throughout Pierce County and the Greater Puget Sound area.

Deeply committed to its role as one of the hubs of Tacoma’s cultural sector, Symphony Tacoma is dedicated to the belief that the community is made stronger and more vibrant by experiencing great music together.

Lincoln High School Students Participate in Mountain and Sea Trip

Symphony Tacoma’s Mountain and Sea concert, the finale of its 70th Anniversary Season, has been a collaboration between organizations, individuals and area philanthropists to support, create and co-curate multiple events. These included March’s Fire and Ice performance art event by Hilltop Artists in Residence in the Museum of Glass hot shop; a field trip to Mount Rainier by the Lincoln High School orchestra; and the culminating event:
tonight’s concert showcasing student glass art, a gifted regional filmmaker, and a
nationally acclaimed composer with local roots.

Among the groups benefitting from Music Director Sarah Ioannides’ inclusive artistic vision is Tacoma’s Lincoln High School orchestra. Taught by Symphony Tacoma
violinist Cynthia Iverson, and beneficiaries of the Symphony’s String Coaching program, the young musicians were drawn into the project through Ioannides’ desire to show them how music can truly make a difference in the world.
“I wanted the students to experience the mountain first hand,” Ioannides explains; “and to feel the impact of music invoking the melting glaciers in a way that brought art to life.”

With support from Symphony Tacoma, Lincoln High School and Mount Rainier National Park, the students made an all-day trek to Paradise earlier this week, where they went on a
two-hour snowshoe with park rangers, heard from a professional climatologist about the effects of climate on the mountain’s fragile ecology, and learned from Ioannides and composer Daniel Ott about the creative process and how an artist responds to external events. They then had an opportunity to make their own creative response with improvisational music on percussion instruments.

“It was truly a day I will never forget,” Ioannides says. “Many of these young people were having their first direct encounter with the mountain, and it was incredible to
experience this with them and watch them learn how music can shape our collective experience of being human.”

The students were special guests at the Friday night dress rehearsal, where they reunited with their new park ranger friends, climatologist Mike Warner, and PLU composer Greg Youtz (who provided invaluable assistance to Ott, Iverson and Ioannides in chaperoning and teaching the group). The students enjoyed pizza with Symphony staffers and watched and listened as the Orchestra rehearsed Fire-Mountain, La Mer and the
rest of the program.

“They had a lot of questions about what it means to be a musician and how music can help open the door to new opportunities,” Ioannides says. “The chance to help shape young musicians, and their understanding of what music can be for humanity, left me humbled and inspired—and filled with hope for the future.”

Mountain and Sea: More than a concert

The World Premiere of a new symphonic work.  A multimedia experience featuring video, glass art and music.  A symposium exploring changes to the delicate ecosystem of the Mountain and its glaciers.  A collaboration between the Arts and the National Park Service.  A once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity for area high school students.  Symphony Tacoma’s Mountain and Sea season finale is all this and more.

Conceived by Music Director Sarah Ioannides, Mountain and Sea engages Symphony Tacoma, the Museum of Glass (MOG), Hilltop Artists and Mount Rainier National Park in the creation of a multimedia artistic event culminating with the Symphony’s Season Finale on May 13. In commemoration of the Centennial of the National Parks System, the multi-layered project will engage area residents in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate.  The capstone of the project and the season finale will be the world premiere of Fire-Mountain, a new symphonic work by Daniel Ott, commissioned by Symphony Tacoma.

Silent Sentinel

For the residents of Pierce County, Mount Rainier is a silent sentinel, always present on the horizon and guarding life in the South Sound area. In 2015, scientists released a sobering report warning of the rapid recession of the mountain’s glaciers—the largest on a single peak anywhere in the contiguous United States—and the ecological consequences that will soon follow.  The geography of the region, with its mountains and valleys intertwined with the many-fingered Salish Sea, is unique in the world.  Here, mountain and inland ocean interact in ways not seen elsewhere.

Impressed by the fragile beauty of the region, Maestra Ioannides envisioned a powerful collaboration that will engage and inform the Tacoma area community.  The resulting project—titled Mountain and Sea—will be comprised of events and activities that could only take place with these particular regional organizations.

Fire and Ice

The first official event of the project was held on March 16 at the Museum of Glass, when student glassblowers from Hilltop Artists were joined in the hot shop cone by seven members of the Orchestra.  The musicians performed both composed and improvised music as they accompanied a fluid, fiery and melting glass performance art project.  Video footage from the event is being combined with images of Mount Rainier into a video art piece—produced by MOG multimedia director Derek Klein in collaboration with Sarah Ioannides.  The video will be projected above the stage during the performance of Fire-Mountain.

Mountaintop Experience

On Wednesday, May 10, Sarah Ioannides will join the string orchestra students from Lincoln High School during a daylong field trip to Paradise on Mount Rainier. Symphony Tacoma has a special relationship with the Lincoln High students; string players from the Orchestra spend eight weeks during the school year as string coaches and mentors at Lincoln.  On this day, the students will trade their instruments for snow shoes as they explore Paradise, hear presentations about the extensive glacial system, and learn from Maestra Ioannides and Daniel Ott about the creative process and how an artist responds to external events to create art.  Later in the week, the students will be guests of honor at the dress rehearsal, along with National Park Service officials.

Not just a concert—an event

As the capstone of the Mountain and Sea project, the Symphony commissioned a work by nationally-acclaimed composer Daniel Ott, who grew up in Puyallup. A musical portrait of natural wonders, Ott’s Fire-Mountain utilizes 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma and 70-person Symphony Tacoma Voices.  Interwoven with Ott’s music will be Derek Klein’s art video, featuring footage from the March glassblowing event along with images from the park.  Presented on a screen suspended above the orchestra, the visual depictions of the molten glass and snow-capped peak, together with the chorus vocals, will poignantly illustrate the mountain’s hidden fire and its surface glaciers, in all their grandeur and beauty.

 

Prior to the concert, Super Subscribers will be invited to a fascinating Music Mixer panel discussion featuring Maestra Ioannides, Daniel Ott, climatologist Mike Warner, and Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. The lobby will include informational displays staffed by NPS officials.  Hilltop Artist students will also be on hand with displays of their glass art from the March 16 Fire and Ice event.

Also performed during the concert will be Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and Debussy’s Impressionist masterpiece La Mer.  The program is characteristic of Sarah Ioannides’s curatorial approach to programming: gem-setting a new artistic creation with colorful, complementary music from the core repertoire and visual elements. The result is a multi-media experience that is challenging yet accessible to audiences.

 

Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region. Through a process of community collaboration and working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, empowering participants to undertake an active role in protecting our region.

The commission is funded by a generous gift from Carroll Bryan and Laurie Sorensen.  Assisting in the launch of this project, the Symphony has the distinguished honor of being the only Washington State grant recipient in a special award category of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Park System.

More than a concert: Season finale gives voice to Mount Rainier

The World Premiere of a new symphonic work. A multimedia experience featuring video, glass art and music. A symposium exploring changes to the delicate ecosystem of the Mountain and its glaciers. A collaboration between the Arts and the National Park Service. A once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity for area high school students. Symphony Tacoma’s Mountain and Sea season finale is all this and more.

Conceived by Music Director Sarah Ioannides, Mountain and Sea engages Symphony Tacoma, the Museum of Glass (MOG), Hilltop Artists, Lincoln High School orchestra students and Mount Rainier National Park in a multimedia artistic event culminating with the May 13 concert. In commemoration of the Centennial of the National Parks System, the multi-layered project will engage participants in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate. The capstone of the project and the season finale will be the world premiere of Fire-Mountain, the new symphonic work by Daniel Ott.

MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE
Speaking of capstones, just three days before the concert string orchestra students from Lincoln High School will join Sarah, composer Daniel Ott, PLU Professor of Composition Greg Youtz and Symphony staff members during a daylong field trip to Paradise on Mount Rainier. We have a special relationship with the school; violinist Cynthia Iverson–a 30-year member of Symphony Tacoma–teaches their orchestra, and string players from Symphony Tacoma are currently in weekly residence there as string coaches and mentors.

This Wednesday, the students will trade their instruments for snow shoes as they travel to Paradise by bus for a daylong field trip. The Symphony is providing seltzer water, capri sun, peanuts and granola bars so they arrived properly fueled and hydrated! At the mountaintop, they’ll hear presentations about the extensive glacial system, and learn from Dan and Greg about the creative process. A primary goal is to convey to the students that music and art don’t happen in a vacuum, but simultaneously shape and respond to current events, life and culture.  On Friday evening, the students will take a much shorter journey to the Pantages Theater, where they will re-unite with their new friends, both artists and park rangers, to watch first hand as Fire-Mountain comes together during the dress rehearsal.

THE MUSIC
A musical portrait of natural wonders, Ott’s Fire-Mountain utilizes 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma and 70-person Symphony Tacoma Voices. Chorus Director Geoffrey Boers has consulted extensively with Sarah and Dan; and the Chorus has had the music since earlier this winter and has been preparing during weekly rehearsals.  Dan will arrive early next week to participate in rehearsals, giving Sarah and Geoffrey the rare opportunity to work first hand with the composer in preparation for the performance.

Also performed during the concert will be Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and Debussy’s Impressionist masterpiece La Mer.  The program is characteristic of Sarah’s thoughtful, curatorial approach to programming: gem-setting a new artistic creation with colorful, complementary music from the core repertoire and visual elements. The result is a multi-media experience that blends the challenging with the  accessible.

THE FILM
Interwoven with Ott’s music will be Tacoma filmmaker Derek Klein’s art film, featuring footage from the mid-March “Fire and Ice” glassblowing event at MOG featuring Hilltop Artist student glassblowers, along with images from the park. With subject matter ranging from sports to creative entertainment, Derek’s films capture real people and the passion that drives them.  As MOG’s multimedia director, he has produced numerous documentaries on pivotal figures in the art world.  Derek, Sarah and Dan have worked in close association to produce an image choreography that is integral to the experience of Fire-Mountain.  Presented on a screen suspended above the orchestra, the visual depictions of the molten glass and snow-capped peak, together with the chorus vocals, will poignantly illustrate the mountain’s hidden fire and its surface glaciers, in all their grandeur and beauty.

Prior to the concert, Super Subscribers will be invited to a fascinating Music Mixer panel discussion featuring Sarah, Dan, climatologist Mike Warner, and Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. The lobby will include informational displays staffed by NPS officials. Hilltop Artist students will also be on hand with displays of their glass art from the March Fire and Ice event.

OTHER PARTNERS AND SUPPORT
The concert is sponsored by Boeing. The commission is funded by a gift from Carroll Bryan and Laurie Sorensen. Assisting in the launch of this project, the Symphony has the distinguished honor of being the only Washington State grant recipient in a special award category of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Park System.  March’s “Fire and Ice” event was made possible by a grant from The Russell Family Foundation.

It has been a privilege to support Dan, Derek and especially Sarah in the long run-up to this concert.  Elements of the project have been in Sarah’s mind since the early days of her tenure, and we have literally been writing grant proposals, building bridges with collaborative partners, and otherwise planning the event since the spring of 2015!  We are also profoundly grateful to Susan Warner and Debbie Lenk at the Museum of Glass, and to the artists and staff at Hilltop Artists, including recently-retired Executive Director Kit Evans.

Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region. Through a process of community collaboration and working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, empowering participants to undertake an active role in protecting our region.