Arts & Culture

Olympia Symphony hits the road — without leaving home

“We will be playing many well-known works as well as exploring some new and lesser-known pieces, getting off the beaten path and exploring some symphonic side streets,” Conductor Huw Edwards said of the new season kicking off this weekend.
“We will be playing many well-known works as well as exploring some new and lesser-known pieces, getting off the beaten path and exploring some symphonic side streets,” Conductor Huw Edwards said of the new season kicking off this weekend. Courtesy of Olympia Symphony Orchestra

The Olympia Symphony Orchestra is on the move for its 66th season.

The orchestra doesn’t have a tour planned, but it’s theming the season around journeys, especially road trips.

Sunday’s season opener, “By Land and By Sea,” includes a drive down “Route 66,” the road that inspired the theme.

But this piece is not the one made famous by Nat King Cole. Rather, it’s a 1998 jazz-inflected piece by Michael Daugherty, who’s described it as “a high-octane nostalgic musical romp.”

Conductor Huw Edwards knew and liked the piece and thought it would be a perfect fit for Sunday’s program. “It’s a terrific piece, a riot,” he told The Olympian.

The season will include a wide array of shorter works, in contrast to last season’s focus on epic symphonies, Edwards said.

“We will be playing many well-known works as well as exploring some new and lesser-known pieces, getting off the beaten path and exploring some symphonic side streets,” he said.

“You can’t recycle a repertoire of 30 comfort-food favorites,” he added. “Audiences and players cannot progress or stay strong and healthy that way; it’s good to do many pieces and styles, works germane to the concert hall, and if you play well, the audience will trust you to take them off the highway and down some country lanes.”

And that’s just where the orchestra will go on Sunday. The program includes a trip “Down a Country Lane” (Aaron Copland) and a jaunt to the sea (Claude Debussy’s “La Mer”).

The orchestra also will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with the Overture to “Candide.”

Rounding out the program is Alexander Glazunov’s melodic Violin Concerto with guest artist Felicity James, whom the program describes as a “phenom.”

“James is a young Seattle star making international headlines,” symphony executive director Jennifer Hermann told The Olympian. Besides performing Sunday, the violinist will teach a master class from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at R.L. Ray Violin Shop, 925 State Ave. NE, Olympia; the public is welcome to observe the class at no cost.

Also among the featured guest artists this season is Olympia pianist Robert Jorgenson, who’ll play in the Feb. 10 concert.

“Robert is a beloved musical icon in the South Sound, well-known as an instructor and chamber musician,” Hermann said.

‘By Land and By Sea’

  • What: The Olympia Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 66th season with Bernstein, Copland and a trip down “Route 66.”

  • When: 7 p.m. Sunday

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

  • Tickets: $7-$60

  • More information: 360-753-8586 or washingtoncenter.org or olympiasymphony.com

The rest of the season

  • • “We Shall Never Forget,” 3 p.m. Nov. 18

  • • “Lovers Lane,” with guest conductor Anthony Spain, 3 p.m. Feb. 10

  • • “Around the Horn,” 7 p.m. March 17

  • • “A Cast of Characters,” 7 p.m. April 28

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