Classic! Peninsula orchestra takes a step away from traditional wintertime performance

Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2001

Debussy, Vivaldi, Weber -- even Beethoven. All are classical composers, and all have been known for their difficult music compositions.

The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra will take the music of these greats along with the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Moussorgsky and Khachaturian and transform it into their winter concert Saturday.

"I encourage people to seriously consider showing up to this concert," said Phil Morin, a member of the executive board for the orchestra. "Some people will roll their eyes if they are not into classical, but they will be surprised at the quality of the music."

In fact, Morin said that it may even become more than a concert event for those who attend.

"When you are watching the orchestra in the (Christ) Lutheran Church you get the feeling that you are actually sitting in the orchestra, actually sitting in one of the chairs facing the conductor," he said. "You will be transported, and you will really enjoy it."

The orchestra will hold two performances, one Friday at the Mariner Theatere in Homer and again Saturday at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. Both performances are at 7:30 p.m.

The orchestra, which is made up of entirely volunteer musicians, has a fluctuating number of members due to other duties, but according to Morin, there still are plenty of musicians to make it worthwhile.

"I think we are pushing something like 50," he said. "There are five cellists this year and there would normally be one or two, if that gives you a better idea of the size of the orchestra."

Although Morin was unsure of the average number of audience members the orchestra normally draws, he said they are expecting a fair amount to attend.

"We've been known to have to put out extra chairs at the Lutheran Church," he said. "I am looking forward to a pretty big house. We normally get lots of good support."

The orchestra changed its schedule for the winter concert this season, switching from a selection of Christmas music and a Christmas setting to more challenging numbers.

"This year the concert is being held later then before, trying to land it between their normal Christmas concert but before March and April," Morin said. "The music they have selected is very difficult, and it is definitely something for the community to attend."

This year the orchestra will feature three of its own orchestra musicians as soloists. Nancy Chambers, Ida Pearson and Sue Biggs will be featured along with their instruments -- the violin. According to Morin, all three are accomplished violinists with a myriad of performing experience.

"A lot of the talent on the peninsula, I feel, is under estimated," he said. "I don't know if that is because we are provincial -- out in the boonies -- or what it is, but those who attend are going to find out this is not just elevator music, not at all."

According to Morin, there is not just one reason the musicians play with the orchestra.

"There is something magical about being a member of a major piece, to do something with others that you couldn't do alone. There are probably as many different reasons that these musicians play as there are musicians playing."

Tickets are available at the Music Box in Soldotna, Alaskan Gift and Galley in Kenai, Etude Music in Homer and at the door. Prices are $10 for general admission, $9 for seniors, $7 for youth and $30 for family.

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