Arts and Entertainment

Saratoga Chamber Orchestra opens season with petting zoo

Jordan and Skye Kelly of Langley sound the brass for the upcoming “Meet the Orchestra” concerts by the Saratoga Chamber Orchestra. - David Medley photo
Jordan and Skye Kelly of Langley sound the brass for the upcoming “Meet the Orchestra” concerts by the Saratoga Chamber Orchestra.
— image credit: David Medley photo

Touch, listen and learn.

The Saratoga Chamber Orchestra invites patrons to join a magic carpet ride of music with its “Meet the Orchestra,” the opener of the orchestra’s new season.

Whidbey Island’s very own orchestra opens its fifth anniversary season at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 at Oak Harbor High School and at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at South Whidbey High School in Langley. Celebrating its five-year mark under the artistic direction of conductor Legh W. Burns, the program introduces and showcases each instrumental family of the orchestra in various musical styles.

“The orchestra is comprised of some very talented and experienced musicians,” Burns said.

“This season, our opening concert seemed a good way to allow our audiences to hear them in separate contexts, in addition to the full orchestra sound.”

On the program this month is “Baroque Brass Fanfare” by Giovanni Gabrieli, which features the brass sounds of the orchestra. Next will be Felix Mendelssohn’s “String Sinfonia No. 2 in D Major,” followed by the exuberant third movement of Vaughan Williams’ “Symphony No. 8” featuring the wind section. That is the first half of the concert.

The second half of the program will feature Benjamin Britten’s popular “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” created in 1946.

Britten was an accomplished pianist who composed the piece to accompany “Instruments of the Orchestra,” an educational film produced by the British government, which took its theme from composer Henry Purcell’s “Abdelazar.”

In the composition, Britten gives individual variations to each of the sections of the orchestra, starting with the woodwind, then the string instruments, followed by the brass instruments and finally the percussion.

Britten then brings the whole orchestra together again in a fugue before restating the theme to finish.

“Highlighting each of the instruments and instrument families with the help of a narrator, the piece climaxes in an intricate and exciting finale that is anything but elementary,” Burns said.

The conductor noted that it is one of the most accessible and enjoyable pieces of the modern orchestral literature.

“I don’t know what the BBC expected from Mr. Britten, but what they got was a sophisticated, extraordinarily well-crafted work that not only explains how each instrument fits into the overall orchestral sound, but also is enjoyable for every age music lover in the audience. It’s sure to be an audience favorite,” Burns added.

Before the orchestra takes the stage, there will also be some special hands-on action at these concerts, as well.

The Saratoga Chamber Orchestra will host its first-ever “Instrument Petting Zoo” one hour prior to each of the concerts. All kids (and kids-at-heart) are invited to get an up-close and personal look at the instruments of the orchestra. Come early and learn about each of the instruments and meet the musicians who play them.

General admission tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for seniors and military. Students 18 and younger are admitted free; those younger than 14 must be accompanied by a paying adult. Tickets are available in Langley at Moonraker Books, in Freeland at BookBay, in Coupeville at bayleaf and in Oak Harbor at bayleaf and ClickMusic. Season Flex Passes are available for $75 online at

ClickMusic of Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island Orchestras and Island Strings are co-sponsors of the opening concerts.


SCO season schedule

“Meet the Orchestra,” 2:30 p.m. Sunday,

Oct. 23 at Oak Harbor High School and 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at South Whidbey High School.

“Raise Up Ye Voices and Sing!” a Messiah sing-along, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.

“From Russia with Love,” Sunday, Jan. 29 and Monday, Jan. 30.

“Classically, Baroque,” Sunday, March 25 and Monday, March 26.

“A Celtic Fiddle Spectacular,” with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Sunday, May 6.


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