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Tag: Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

Feb.
25th

In “See Change I,” Tacoma Symphony’s first conductor finalist Sarah Ioannides takes the orchestra to new heights of skill and nuance

If its first finalist is anything to go by, the Tacoma Symphony won’t have a problem choosing a new artistic director that’ll take them to higher musical places. A nearly-full crowd showed up at the Pantages yesterday to watch Sarah Ioannides, the first of four finalists in the orchestra’s search for a new artistic director, blaze her way through an audition concert (“See Change I”) that combined sterling precision with deep, nuanced expression – and an excellent solo performance by the orchestra’s double bass principal Chris Burns.

Conducting mostly from memory – including Shostakovich’s epic Fifth Symphony – the British native showed obvious rapport with the orchestra, who were following as one her encouraging but uncompromising direction. But while her precision and thought-out structure was impressive – not for a while have the violins sounded so tight – the first half was a little lacking in drama. Glinka’s “Russlan and Ludmilla” overture opened the show, and this Cossack dance with its bouncy theme and gleeful fast runs needed more wild abandon than Ioannides was going to indulge, going instead for lightness and spot-on unity. Facing the violins almost the entire time she also missed a few lower-string moments that could have made this a less refined, Mozartean experience.

Next in the spotlight, though, was an instrument that rarely gets the chance to shine but deserves it all the more: the double bass. TSO principal Chris Burns sailed through the Divertimento Concertante by Nino Rota – a mid-20th-century composer best known for his scores for Fellini, Coppola and Zeffirelli – with a calm virtuosity and thoughtful expression. Read more »

Feb.
8th

Critic’s Picks: UPS piano fest, Tacoma Symphony Chorus, Tacoma Symphony Family concert and Valentine’s Day burlesque at the Pantages

William Ransom at UPS piano fest

Internationally-known American pianist William Ransom kicks off the 23rd annual Piano Festival at the University of Puget Sound tonight with a recital. The festival tomorrow showcases local middle and high school piano students, with workshops, concerts and a competition.

7:30 p.m. tonight, festival tonight and tomorrow. $12.50/$8.50/free for UPS students. Schneebeck Concert Hall, UPS, North Union Avenue and North 15th Streets, Tacoma. 253-879-6013, pugetsound.edu

TSO Chorus’ “Sonic Valentine”

Instead of a card, give a concert this Valentine’s Day. The Tacoma Symphony Chorus and University of Washington Chamber Singers team up for a “Sonic Valentine” in the reverberant First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tacoma. They’ll be singing luscious ear candy from Mendelssohn to Eric Whitacre to indie pop hit “Cells Planets.” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9. $20. First Presbyterian, 20 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma. 253-591-5894, broadwaycenter.org

Tacoma Symphony strings’ family concert Read more »

Jan.
15th

Tacoma Symphony launches new kids’ series with “Peter and the Wolf,” both in the Rialto Theater and at Joint Base Lewis McChord

Trying instruments at the petting zoo at a TSO family concert. Courtesy photo.
Trying instruments at the petting zoo at a TSO family concert. Courtesy photo.

Kids need classical music – we’re all familiar with the studies that repeatedly show how much it improves grades, test scores, teamwork, concentration and behavior. But sometimes it’s hard to get them to live concerts, due to programming, timing, location or cost. The Tacoma Symphony, in partnership with Ted Brown Music and the University of Puget Sound Community Music department, is taking up the challenge by developing its once-a-year family concert into a series of four weekend afternoon shows at various venues which explore the four different instrumental sections of the orchestra with music kids will love. And they begin this weekend.

First up is “Peter and the Wolf.” Yes, it’s an old chestnut for kids’ concerts, but that’s because the tale of a slightly disobedient boy who saves his bird friends from a wicked wolf is a perennial crowd-pleaser, together with the score by Sergei Prokofiev that perfectly caricatures Peter, the bird, the duck, the cat, the wolf, the grumpy grandpa and the ridiculous hunters who make up the story. Conductor Harvey Felder will also explain the different instruments that make up the wind section of the orchestra. Read more »

Nov.
16th

Critic’s Picks: TSO with Janet Sung, Cathedrals at Immanuel Presbyterian, “Twelfth Night” at Lakewood Playhouse and neo-futurist theater at UPS


Violinist Janet Sung plays with the Tacoma Symphony this weekend. Courtesy photo.

TSO with Janet Sung

Dynamic young violinist Janet Sung returns to the Tacoma Symphony to play Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnol,” on a program that also includes Beehoven’s “Eroica” symphony. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18. $24/$42/$62/$77. Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma. 253-591-5894, broadwaycenter.org, tacomasymphony.org

Cathedrals: Local indie music in churches

The Broadway Center’s “Cathedrals” series continues to present local indie bands in acoustically reverberant churches: Tonight’s show at Immanuel Presbyterian features Portland’s Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives, Seattle’s Pollens and Tacoma’s own Goldfinch, releasing their CD with free download to all Cathedrals ticket buyers. 8 p.m. tonight. $16. Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 901 N. J St., Tacoma. 253-591-5894, broadwaycenter.orgipctacoma.org

“Twelfth Night” at Lakewood Playhouse Read more »

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 »

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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June
4th

Tacoma Symphony announces finalists for new director position

The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra has announced the four finalists for its upcoming artistic director position. The position, which will become vacant at the end of the 2013/14 season as long-term conductor Harvey Felder retires, requires a concert audition of all four finalists, which will take place through the 2012/13 season.

Sarah Ioannides has served as director of the Spartanburg Philharmonia and El Paso Symphony orchestras, introducing innovative programs with new media and world commissions.

Paul Haas is both composer and conductor, and music director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and Sympho, a touring music

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