Orchestra brings a piece of Italy to Whidbey

With all the makings of an Italian drama, the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra will conclude its 2013-2014 season with “Italian Spring” this Friday, May 16.

Tigran Arakelyan and Gloria Ferry-Brennan rehearse for the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra’s upcoming performance “Italian Spring

With all the makings of an Italian drama, the Whidbey Island Community Orchestra will conclude its 2013-2014 season with “Italian Spring” this Friday, May 16.

Under the direction of Tigran Arakelyan, the free concert features music from soloist Gloria Ferry-Brennan and the winner of the young composer competition, Jon Brenner.

Concluding his first year as director, Arakelyan said one new thing he is working on for the future is having each concert center on a subject. For this performance it’s music and inspirations from Italian composers.

“I really want to start making these have some theme,” he said. “Now it’s starting to come together and move into a direction and theme.”

One of the members, Chelsea Bonacello who plays the cello, said the concert is like an Italian drama for the orchestra, especially with a passionate director like Arakelyan.

“He’s very spirited in concerts, you can tell he’s inspired by the heart,” she said. “We’re all inspired by him and he pushes us.”

The orchestra is featuring the winner of their young composer competition, Jon Brenner. The contest aimed to provide composers, under 35 years old, a place to have their pieces performed. As a young composer, it’s hard to find an orchestra to showcase their work, Arakelyan said. The orchestra received submissions from Washington, California and even Illinois, but eventually chose Bainbridge-based Brenner.

Arakelyan selected Brenner for his ability to compose a modern piece for a community orchestra.

Many people in the competition focused on composing a simple piece for a community-based orchestra, Arakelyan said.

“With Jon, he used simple technique and harmony to create a modern sound — he didn’t sacrifice the modern feel,” he said.

Bonacello said the piece is beautiful and also difficult rhythmically, challenging the multigenerational orchestra.

“This older and youth combination is delightful,” she said.

For 15-year-old Alec Chinnery, on the French horn, the orchestra is a place for him to grow.

“They’re not striving to be perfect — it’s perfect for me, they’re much kinder than a professional orchestra, ” he said.

Chinnery looks forward to playing with the orchestra every day as a means to relieve stress and make his day better.

“It’s a place where I can let it all go away,” he said.

The concert will also feature a first time performance with famed Whidbey violinist, Ferry-Brennan, who will perform in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons Summer.”

Ferry-Brennan said she was excited for her inaugural concert with the orchestra.

“It’s fun to play with all these people I’ve grown up with and fun to play with people in the community,” she said.

 

“Italian Spring”

The Whidbey Island Community Orchestra will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, at South Whidbey High School.

Admission is free with donations encouraged to support the orchestra. For details, contact James Lux at jameslux@whidbey.com or 360-321-4221.

 

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