Masterworks to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra in Saturday concert

Masterworks Choral Ensemble will pay tribute to the late Frank Sinatra at Olympia’s performing arts center Saturday

Contributing writerJune 13, 2014 

Six years after his death, Frank Sinatra’s music echoes through the culture.

On Saturday, his songs will be heard at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, where Masterworks Choral Ensemble is closing out its season with a tribute to the artist affectionately known as Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Timothy McKinley, a chorus member who will sing “The Way You Look Tonight” at Saturday’s concert, remembers the first time he heard the song.

“It was in a beer commercial,” he said. “I thought, ‘What is that song?’ and I did some research on the Internet and I found it. I realized there are a lot of Sinatra songs I like.”

And a lot of them have been featured in TV commercials, he noted.

“The Way You Look Tonight” has remained a favorite. As soon as the Sinatra show was announced, McKinley knew he wanted to sing it as a solo. (Would-be soloists choose and prepare an appropriate song, then audition.)

“I was holding my breath and hoping that Gary didn’t pick it for the large group to sing,” said McKinley, who sang “My Grownup Christmas List” in the ensemble’s holiday concert. “When he didn’t, I seized the opportunity.”

“It’s a song that a lot of later generations have discovered,” he said. “It’s really a timeless piece.”

Gary Witley, the ensemble’s artistic director, grew up listening to Sinatra with his jazz-musician father.

Witley also noted the singer’s cross-generational appeal. (The singer is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and won 11 Grammy awards.)

Senior citizens make up 50 percent to 60 percent of the Masterworks audience. At a recent concert at Jubilee, a community for people 55 and older in Lacey, the Sinatra numbers were a hit. “We were really singing the music of their era,” he said.

But younger people aren’t left out.

“As a singer, he’s almost the epitome of the great American songbook,” Witley said. “These songs have staying power, and they’re still around. They’re almost ageless.”

Sinatra’s repertoire included about 400 songs, Witley said. While many the ensemble will sing on Saturday — including “Fly Me to the Moon” and “New York, New York” — will be familiar to Sinatra fans, the program does include a few surprises.

“We have one arrangement that turns into a doo-wop tune,” Witley said. ‘Sing Sinatra: Music of Ol’ Blue Eyes’

What: Masterworks Choral Ensemble presents well-known selections by the late Frank Sinatra, one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. The featured guest artist is violinist Alexander Werner, who won the elementary school level of Masterworks’ Youth Music Competition and just completed sixth grade at Nova School.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Tickets: $22 for adults, $16 for students and seniors, $11 for youth.

More information: 360-753-8586 or washingtoncenter.org or mce.org.

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