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.”

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