Arts and Entertainment

Bremerton Symphony finds its Latin groove

Music Director Alan Futterman has been with the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra since early 2009. - Courtesy photo
Music Director Alan Futterman has been with the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra since early 2009.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Bremerton Symphony Orchestra is heading into the final few performances of its current season with newly revved momentum. Last year, the symphony felt the aftershocks of a midseason dismissal of its conductor. But now its numbers are on the rise, and the orchestra is making good on its global theme, drumming up some of the world’s best rhythms in its Fiesta Latina tomorrow night.

In what is probably the symphony’s largest ever assembled collection of percussion instruments, shells, rattles, congas and bongos will liven up the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center as musicians take on some of Spain’s traditional music, as well as variations of the sort created in the New World.

“Music, for me, is a way to get at history, to get at cultures, to look at the world,” said symphony music director and conductor Alan Futterman. “It’s clearly not just notes on the page, and that’s what makes it fascinating.”

The roughly 65 symphony members will transition from an homage to Spain’s traditional Flamenco music to pre-Salsa Cuban beats, the Argentine Tango and Incan polyphonic chant. Bremerton native Claire Sledd is the symphony’s featured artist; returning from school in Europe she’ll play violin for Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnol. Sledd brings a rare perspective, as an American student in London studying violin from a Romanian instructor, noted Futterman.

The Bremerton Symphony Concert Chorale will also join the orchestra singing in Quechua, the language of the Incas, in some of the earliest polyphonic music in the Western Hemisphere.

The symphony spanned the globe this season, giving an Oktoberfest performance and a night at the opera, taking from locations as far as Egypt, Moscow and Canaan, last fall, and a holiday performance of traditions from the United Kingdom this winter.

This weekend, the symphony plays music created in part in a European melting pot, where influences of Africa and the Middle East met as people groups began mixing. Next year, Futterman plans to lead the symphony in a temporal theme, playing pieces from history farther back than most symphonies go.

It’s all a part of Futterman’s strategy to offer unique performances, sounds that won’t be heard anywhere else. He stepped in as music director for the symphony early in 2009, after the quiet midseason dismissal of former conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich. With only 10 days notice he turned out a first performance, and was then asked to stay for a second, and a third.

After a tumultuous last season at the symphony, things have begun to turn around. This year, season ticket holders have increased by more than 25 percent over the 2008-2009 season, according to Bremerton Symphony Association bookkeeper Kelly Swenland. The average concert attendance has risen by more than 30 percent so far this season, and pre-concert chat attendance is up 40 percent.

“All orchestras are having hard financial times right now,” Futterman said. “Now I think we’ve turned the corner.”

Experience “Fiesta Latina: Music from Spain and the New World”

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20. Arrive early and hear Music Director Alan Futterman’s pre-concert chat at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the show are $24 for adults, $19 for seniors, students and members of the military, and $8 for kids. The show will take place at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center. The symphony is currently offering a deal on sampler subscriptions. For more information, visit bremertonsymphony.wordpress.com.

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