Cascade Symphony Orchestra at Edmonds Center for the Arts
My wife and I have lived in Edmonds for 13 years and had never heard of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra until this month. That says a lot more about us than about the CSO which was formed in 1962. But it’s never too late to discover another of the good things in life, is it? How did this one finally happen?
Well, I’d been thinking about taking her out on a date, and one evening I was talking with the outstanding principal horn player in the Alderwood Community Church Orchestra. “What other orchestra do you play in?” I asked. “The Cascade Symphony Orchestra,” he replied, and that took me to the internet the next day. I found out that CSO was presenting its “Holiday Pops” concert in Edmonds on 11-12 December. My wife said yes, so I drove to the ticket office at the Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA), bought two tickets for Sunday night, peaked inside to see the dark auditorium, and picked up a booklet on the ECA to educate myself a little.
The Edmonds Center for the Arts, with its new 700-seat auditorium, held its Grand Opening on 6 Jan 2007 (see http://www.facebook.com/edmondscenterforthearts). Originally, in 1910, the building was the Edmonds High School. This is now ECA’s 10th Anniversary Season.
CSO is a non-professional orchestra, composed of accomplished musicians with careers in other fields who “perform purely for the joy of it.” The orchestra was formed in 1962, and led by Robert Anderson, the original conductor (see http://www.cascadesymphony.org). That was the year of the Seattle World’s Fair and opening of the Space Needle. It was also the year I graduated from the University of Washington, joined the Navy, and reported for duty at Officer’s Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. There was no freeway in Seattle then. The Seattle portion of I-5 opened in 1967, the year I returned to Seattle to teach Naval ROTC at the University of Washington for the final two years of my active duty.
Several musicians in the original orchestra were still members in 2011-12, the 50th-Anniversary season. The 2016 Holiday Pops program lists 86 musicians in CSO. Of those, 17 members have played in CSO for 30 years or more. And of those, five members (two violinists, two violists, and one cellist) have been members for 50 years or more! The trumpeters are George Steward, Principal; Rocklyn Meredith; and Delsin Thomas. Annual auditions are held in August; individual auditions are scheduled by appointment. At least four CSO members also play in the Alderwood Community Church Orchestra: Lance Ellis (Principal, French Horn); Rob Rankin (Principal, Trumpet); Madison Bromel (Cello); and Heather Hoskins (Bass).
CSO’s 2016-17 concert season (September through May) consists of five symphony performances, all at ECA in Edmonds. The orchestra rehearses every Monday night during the concert season—it’s known as “Cascade night.” Maestro Michael Miropolsky (a Russian violinist) is the Music Director and current Conductor.
As for the concert itself, the program included works by Johann Strauss, Peter Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, Victor Herbert, and Robin Seletsky/Ed Marcus, as well as five “Holiday Sing-Along” songs led by the Maestro playing his violin. The orchestra is composed of accomplished musicians and is well-rehearsed. It was a good reminder of how widespread musical talent is shared among all societies, nationalities, and races throughout the world. To me, that has a divine purpose. No wonder music is called the “universal language.”
The piece arranged by Robin Seletsky and orchestrated by Ed Marcus is called “Chanukah [Hanukah] Klezmer Medley” was extraordinary. It features a Klezmer clarinet solo, expertly performed by Beverly Setzer, who made her clarinet talk like a person—amazing! Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews that reflects the emotional vocal and dance music of Eastern Europe, especially Romania, and is most often played at Jewish weddings and celebrations.
The two Leroy Anderson pieces, “Sleigh Ride” and “Chicken Reel,” showcased the composer’s catchy tunes and playful orchestrations. We learned from the program that Anderson was a linguist who specialized in Scandanavian and German languages. He was Chief of the Scandinavian Desk of Military Intelligence at the Pentagon. But, like the CSO musicians, he pursued a second career simultaneously—in his case, with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He wrote “Sleigh Ride” in 1946. “Chicken Reel” is a dance tune written in 1910 by Joseph M. Daly which Anderson then orchestrated.
Learning more about Victor Herbert was also a treat for me. A composer, conductor, and cellist, he was Irish-born in 1859 and died in Connecticut in 1924. CSO concluded the concert with his march, “Auditorium Festival,” which premiered in 1901 in Chicago with Herbert conducting the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra on tour. It incorporates the familiar folk song melody, “Auld Lang Syne.” Among his many compositions are 43 operettas, including Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913), and his best-known Babes in Toyland (1903).
Oh, by the way, the date was a success. When we returned home, I got a kiss from my bride, and she accepted when I asked for another date. Perhaps I’ll suggest Monday, 9 January 2017 at 7:30 p.m. when CSO presents Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in Eb major, featuring Jeffrey Fair, soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor (Pathetique). Maybe we’ll see you there.
Most of these photos can be enlarged simply by clicking on them.