Captain's Log, October 2018

PMW’s concert season is just beginning, but September was already a very active month for us with our opening Sanctuary in the City concert on September 5th as well as the all-important annual gala (called Festa Italiana this year). The event was our best ever – a great and convivial party, but also breaking all our previous fundraising records with a groundswell of $63,000. We, the staff and board of PMW, are incredibly grateful for this outpouring of practical support for our efforts, and to all of you who were there, we hope you had a wonderful time!

Our Underground series got off to a rollicking start last weekend with five performances of BACHtoberfest attracting more than two hundred guests. Next up is Avant (Baroque) Garde, featuring music that broke all the rules, caused an uproar, and turned the establishment on its head, including works by Castello, Marini, Rossi, Jarzebski, and more. Please check the new and improved PMW website for more information about the entire Underground season. 


The season opener of Mainstage productions will be Monteverdi Masterworks on Oct. 26 at Trinity Lutheran, Lynnwood, and Oct. 27 at St. James Cathedral. Coming back to St. James (after our many performances of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers there) seems like a home-coming not only to the space, but also to the glorious opulence of Monteverdi’s music for Venice’s San Marco. From the vast collection of his best late compositions for the church and chamber called Selva Morale et Spirituale from 1641, it was difficult to select only one concert’s worth, but it should have the effect of Monteverdi’s “greatest hits” and we have a stunning vocal and instrumental line-up to do justice to these jewels. We will have a pre-concert presentation in the Conference Room at Skyline across the street from the Cathedral at 6:30 with the concert beginning at 8. Please join us there, and we will process together to St. James (namesake of Santiago de Compostela – legendary goal of pilgrimage on the Iberian Peninsula).

This past Wednesday was a very special Sanctuary in the City concert featuring baritone James Dargan with Henry Lebedinsky on grand piano. Since I didn’t have anything to do with the planning or preparation of this concert (all Henry’s doing), perhaps I can be indulged the rare opportunity to write a subjective review. I attended the concert along with a large and diverse (in every meaning of the word) crowd that included a class from St. John’s School in Greenwood. The students sat in rapt attention along with the rest of the audience. James has a large and compelling presence and voice, and his spoken words were as communicative as the ones he sang. His voice filled the ample acoustic of Christ our Hope whether swelling to a powerful crescendo or almost disappearing in a falsetto whisper – and yet it was his musical personality and musicianship even more than his voice which riveted everyone’s attention. The program was called Oh, Glory! Black History Matters, and James chose a series of iconic black artists (particularly singers) to illustrate the theme. The middle set, which represented the legacy of Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, consisted of pieces which were either arranged or composed by Mr. Dargan. Hearing his own musical vocabulary in the arrangements of Tomorrow is my turn and Summertime was the perfect introduction to his own composition of Gentle Lady, setting a poem by James Joyce, and prelude to the devastating and truly haunting song Strange Fruit as sung by Billie Holiday, so vividly conjuring her own personal experience but also the collective experience of being black in the USA. James Dargan, who lives in New York, is now engaged in writing his first opera, The Legend of John Henry, and we look forward to his next appearance in Seattle.

Philip TschoppComment