by Maxine Eilander
August has been glorious weather in Seattle, with the exception of recent smoky days from nearby wildfires. After finishing the Whidbey Island Music Festival concerts and the run-out to Vancouver’s Bach Festival, we have been off-duty in terms of concerts, but of course that is the very time to do all the detailed planning for the coming season. This morning was a PMW staff meeting at our University district office. It was great to see the whole team back together (Tekla, Tess, Henry, Aidan, Maxine and me) and brainstorm about how to make the coming concert season more rewarding than ever for audiences and musicians alike. It was also a reminder to get on with my August blog!
One new point of emphasis this season will be pre- and post- concert events – “pre-game warm-ups” with conversations to give extra context to the particular repertoire being performed and post-concert informal settings to make it easier for musicians and audience members to get to know one another. Since we have a season with various venues (still looking for the elusive “perfect fit”) we will give details of those extra events in the run-up to each of the concerts.
The activities of Pacific MusicWorks have expanded dramatically in the past year – since bringing Henry Lebedinsky’s Underground series into the PMW tent, and establishing our free-to-the-public series Sanctuary in the City at the jewel-like venue of Christ our Hope at the Josephinum, our annual concert offerings have shot up from under 10 to over 60! And speaking of expansion, we will have some exciting news to share at our annual fundraiser.
On September 5 at 12 noon we will kick off the Sanctuary series (first Wednesday’s of each month) and simultaneously give a live preview of the season’s mainstage concerts with the PMW house-band featuring sopranos Tess Altiveros and Danielle Sampson with Tekla Cunningham, violin, Maxine Eilander baroque harp, Henry Lebedinsky, harpsichord and me on lute and guitar.
Then on September 23, we will be back at Resonance at SOMA Towers in Bellevue for our annual Gala Fundraiser (this year called Festa Italiana) with the same line-up of the PMW band.
Then in Early October, Henry starts the Underground season with BACHtoberfest, but since there are so many Underground concerts in a variety of venues, please see the PMW website for all of those.
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, including our beloved Reginald Mobley, whose rendition of Ego flos is on our YouTube channel.
Our December concert will be Christmas in Rome at Epiphany Parish on Dec. 7 and Trinity Parish on Dec. 9, featuring Corelli’s beloved and well-known Christmas Concerto, paired with Stradella’s dramatic Cantata per il Santissimo Natale – a masterpiece for five soloists and orchestra which is rarely heard in this country – possibly in its first ever Seattle performances.
Our Valentine season offering will be Leading Ladies (a program I wanted to call Stupid Cupid, but was over-ruled since no one can be called stupid now – even Cupid). The reason that both titles can apply is that it will feature leading women composers of the 17th century, particularly the brilliant Barbara Strozzi, who will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of her birth in 2019, and whose compositions revolve around the topic of love, and the often malicious actions of the boy-God of love.
We will end the season in grand style, with performances of Handel’s magnificent Samson, bringing back tenor Aaron Sheehan as Samson, and PMW favorite Tess Altiveros as Dalila. After performing and recording a whole program of music which Handel wrote for his favorite tenor John Beard, it seemed particularly appropriate to feature Aaron in the work which was the culmination of the first years of collaboration between Handel and Beard, with the piece which features the tenor as hero, and setting the tone for Handel’s creation of the English Oratorio.
The release of that recording on Naxos: Total Eclipse: Music for Handel’s Tenor, is scheduled to arrive in time for those performances!
Single tickets for all our season performances have gone on sale, and our new and improved website will be launching very soon.