Orchestra's inaugural performance: 'Tonight, you all are living history'

POULSBO — The orchestra had just finished Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne, Suite No. 2” and Mayor Becky Erickson was caught up in the significance of what had transpired that evening.

“Someone once told me, ‘When you are living history, it’s hard to recognize it,’” she said. “Tonight, you all are living history.”

The Poulsbo Community Orchestra’s inaugural performance on June 30 attracted a standing-room-only crowd in Poulsbo City Hall's council chambers. Conductor Seph Coats led the orchestra through “Procession of the Sardar” by Mikhail Ippolitov Ivanov; “Twelve German Dances” by Beethoven; and “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius. The orchestra wasn’t sure it could master the finale — Bizet’s “L’Arlesienne” — but, as attested to by the applause, the orchestra did.

The all-volunteer Poulsbo Community Orchestra was established in March as a not-for-profit, cultural organization. Steve Swann is its founder and executive director, and is assisted by music director Blake Yarbrough and a small planning committee. Yarbrough is principal French horn and a soloist with U.S. Navy Band Northwest.

Musicians with at least two years playing experience, ages 14 and older, may register with Poulsbo’s Parks and Recreation Department for scheduled rehearsal sessions. The first 10-week program ended June 30. The summer program begins July 14 and will be followed by a 12-week fall session beginning in mid-September.

Among the musicians: Siblings Delaney and Hunter Lehmann, and their mom, Michelle. Delaney, first violin, will be a freshman at Hillsdale College in September. Hunter, first cello, will be a sophomore at Seattle University. Their mom, Michelle, plays clarinet. Joining them this summer will be brother Colin on French horn.

Coats, a Navy lieutenant and director of U.S. Navy Band Northwest, was presented with a plaque from the orchestra, in appreciation for his work as inaugural conductor. He is leaving to attend graduate school at Arizona State University, and the orchestra is looking for a new conductor.

Swann said the community band and orchestra movement in the United States provides rehearsal and performance opportunities, often without requirement for individual audition. Volunteer musicians perform locally with orchestras and wind bands in Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Silverdale, Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles, and work to lend support to music programs in local schools.

Besides early rave reviews, the orchestra has also landed a gig: The orchestra will send a string quartet to perform at the Peninsula Music and Arts Society fundraiser at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway lodge in August.


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