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Category: music – symphony

Dec.
9th

Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas – Day 7

Welcome to the Twelve Tacoma Artist Gifts of Christmas! Inspired by both the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song and fellow features writer Sue Kidd, who’s offering you her own “Twelve Tacoma Foodie Gifts of Christmas” on her TNT Diner blog, I’ve come up with 12 alternative gifts for Christmas: no partridges in pear trees, but something a lot more uniquely local. (See older posts for the other days.)

 

So here’s Day 7:

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Seven concert tickets, six sumi paintings, five gothic rings…Four pottery bowls, three CDs, two baby

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Oct.
22nd

Muscly virtuosity from Leon Bates and atmospheric playing from Tacoma Symphony make a pleasant, if not thrilling, season opener

It seemed like the perfect combination for a season opening: a jazzy first half, a terrific pianist, a new piece and an ocean-themed centerpiece. But despite some impressive playing, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra’s concert last Saturday in the Pantages was less thrilling than it might have been, thanks to Leon Bates’ relentless keyboard attack, some balance issues and Debussy’s “La Mer” falling a little short of opening-night grandeur.

All was well for the first piece, Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture,” which the TSO played with rhythmic aplomb (after an initial rockiness in the percussion) and a smooth big-band sound from the brass, although it would have been nice to hear the woodwinds more, including the subtle clarinet cadenza. This problem persisted through the evening into the wind-colored Debussy, and makes you wonder if putting winds and brass on more risers would help overcome the extreme deadness of the Pantages’ acoustic.

On to Bates, then, who plays just like the bodybuilding enthusiast he is: muscly tone, firm attack and meaty hands that could eat Gershwin concertos for breakfast. Read more »

Oct.
16th

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra takes to the sea for its season opener with Leon Bates this Saturday at the Pantages

Pianist Leon Bates will play with the Tacoma Symphony this weekend. Courtesy photo.

The Tacoma Symphony might be launching into a creative and unusual season this year including video game music, new compositions and a double bass concerto (watch the GO cover in November for the story) but for the season opener this Saturday at the Pantages it’s straight-down-the-line Gershwin and Debussy, featuring bodybuilding pianist Leon Bates as soloist and taking its theme from the ocean.

Bates will play in the Gershwin half of the program, playing the jazz composer’s Concerto in F after the orchestra opens with the Cuban Overture. Known both for fiery, energetic performances and his two-hour-a-day dedication to bodybuilding (the two might just be related), Bates is one of the soloists TSO director Harvey Felder wanted to invite back to perform during his last two years at the orchestra’s helm.

“Leon played with us seven or eight years ago,” says Felder. “He’s a gracious, kind gentleman and a superb musician. During my last two years I’m inviting guest artists I’ve worked with who are both gracious and excellent players. He was first on the list.” Read more »

Oct.
8th

Joyful, uniting music at Northwest Sinfonietta’s historic “Cuban” concert in Rialto Theater, Tacoma

Jesús Carnero de la Teja conducts the Northwest Sinfonietta in the Cuban national anthem in the Rialto Theater Saturday night. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

It was a moment few could have predicted back in 1959 (or even more recently than Cuba’s revolution) – 800 Americans standing in honor while a Cuban conductor led American musicians through the Cuban national anthem, both countries’ flags flanking the stage. But that’s exactly what happened Saturday night at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater, and Friday night in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, and yesterday at Pioneer Park Pavilion, Puyallup, with all three venues seeing packed, enthusiastic houses for a first-ever concert of Cubans playing side by side with Americans in this country. The orchestra was, of course, the Northwest Sinfonietta, whose January Cuba tour sparked off the whole exchange, and who played with most of their usual panache and skill in a program of Beethoven and Lecuona.

In Tacoma, the music came after an official proclamation of “Northwest Sinfonietta Day” by Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and a welcome. Strickland conducted her way through the U.S. national anthem without mishap, and then Cuban violist Jesús Carnero de la Teja took the baton for the Cuban anthem. After three dances by Ernesto Lecuona, the “Cuban Gershwin,” which showed both Lecuona’s flair for ineffable orchestration and a sultry, dramatic flair from the musicians, Carnero again took the podium from director Christophe Chagnard to lead “Danzon Ragon” by Cuban pianist Andrés Alen. Under Carnero’s deft leadership, which also included some suave dancing and inviting the audience to clap along, the bossa nova featured a strong percussion section and smooth brass solos. The Cuban string players also got to lead their respective sections, which was a nice gesture.

And then hot Havana humidity gave way to Germanic Sturm-und-Drang, as Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 began. Read more »

Oct.
2nd

It’s official: Friday is Northwest Sinfonietta Day, says Governor Gregoire

Goodness knows we don’t need any more official “days” (“Walk Your Dog Day,” “Brush Your Teeth Day”) but this one is actually well-deserved. This Friday has been officially proclaimed Northwest Sinfonietta Day in the state of Washington by Governor Christine Gregoire, and it’s largely because of the supreme effort this local orchestra has made in creating a musical bond with a chamber orchestra in Tacoma’s sister city of Cienfuegos, Cuba. (You can read the main story here.)

For the last two years Sinfonietta director Neil Birnbaum has been working hard alongside congressman Norm Dicks, senator Maria Cantwell and

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Sep.
10th

Tacoma Symphony Orchestra grant doubles endowment; another allows new development position

The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra is the recipient of two new grants totaling $554,000, one effectively doubling the organization’s endowment and the other allowing the formation of a new position to develop the orchestra’s patronage, executive director Andy Buelow announced this week.

A $419,000 gift from the estate of George A. Lagerquist, pledged 13 years ago, was recently given in completion to the Tacoma Symphony, for whose endowment fund it was earmarked. Lagerquist, who died in 2003, had made the pledge in 1999 in honor of his wife Mary, who died unexpectedly last year. A trustee and benefactor of

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Aug.
21st

Tacoma Opera to partner with Tacoma Symphony for performances; other changes in the works

Tacoma Opera director Noel Koran. Courtesy image.

Noel Koran, in his first full season as director of Tacoma Opera, has announced that the company has agreed to partner with the Tacoma Symphony to provide the orchestral score to two of the season’s three operas. The change is one of several which include morphing the Young Artists program into a mainstage opera, casting out-of region singers, programming more well-known operas and featuring Koran himself as stage director for “Così fan tutte” and “La Traviata.”

We’re really excited about this relationship,” said Koran. “We have a long-standing relationship with our own orchestra, but in this economic environment there’s a lot of focus from funding organizations on collaboration. And our best-selling production ever was “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” which was done in conjunction with the Northwest Sinfonietta.” Read more »

July
31st

Free concert Saturday with Tacoma Community College Summer Orchestra

Among the many outdoor music events this summer in South Puget Sound is the annual Tacoma Community College Summer Orchestra. A great chance for community and amateur musicians to get together and play, it’s also a great opportunity to hear free classical music. The concert’s at noon this Saturday.

“This experience is designed to be an inclusive community event, allowing musicians from a variety of experiences to be a part of a large orchestral masterwork,” says director John Falskow, music department chair at TCC.

The program is the tuneful, Spanish-overtoned “L’Arlesienne” suites 1 and 2 by Georges Bizet. The

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