Published on May 6th, 2024


Dreams & Dances – April 20, 2024
Featuring Leelanee Sterrett, horn
Dawn Padula, mezzo-soprano


On April 20th, the Pantages Theater was transformed into a vibrant hub of music and surprises for Symphony Tacoma’s Dreams & Dances. The evening kicked off with a burst of color and passion as flamenco dancers welcomed the audience; their graceful movements and the sounds of Spain set the stage for the night. This was just the beginning of a series of unique experiences that made the event truly special.

Symphony Tacoma’s Interim Executive Director welcomed us to the hall before handing the stage to Music Director Sarah Ioannides. Sarah took the podium with her usual confidence in festive black and red to lead the orchestra through de Falla’s Suite from El Amor Brujo. Watching Sarah pull all the passion and fire of de Falla’s evocative piece was quite the show. And the musicians didn’t disappoint, meeting Sarah beat for beat through each vibrant passage. Adding mezzo-soprano Dawn Padula’s sultry voice and Spanish inflections really brought the whole piece together.

New York Philharmonic horn player Leelanee Sterrett stepped into the spotlight and closed the first half of the evening with a spellbinding performance of Strauss’ incomparable Horn Concerto No. 1. Sterrett expertly demonstrated the horn’s capabilities, effortlessly navigating through challenging passages. Her deft performance on one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestral family was truly inspiring. Based on the crowd’s enthusiastic response, they agreed.

After a short intermission, Symphony Tacoma Music Director Sarah Ioannides welcomed us back to the concert and introduced local composer Gina Gillie. The following performance was the world premiere of Gillie’s piece Reverie. Originally commissioned by a professional horn player needing to rehab an injury, Gillie explained the inspiration for this intense piece was the ethereal realm of dreams and imagination. Sterrett once again joined the orchestra to bring this captivating piece to life, and she did just that! Hearing such a beautiful piece composed by a local musician was an honor.

The audience was next introduced to Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály and his Dances of Galánta. As the title suggests, the orchestra deftly “danced” through Hungary, with Sarah taking the lead from the opening clarinet solo to the triumphant climax. The energy was palpable, and Sarah put the audience exactly where she wanted us as she moved into Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2.

Could Sarah have programmed anything more perfectly to close this rhythmic evening? No! Márquez’s spirited piece perfectly summed up the night and left many of us bobbing our heads and tapping our toes in the hall. Spirits ran high as we all streamed to the lobby and into the beautiful spring night. This was another outstanding success for our Symphony Tacoma and Sarah Ioannides!