Talent, classics and humor awaits those who attend this year’s Kenai Peninsula Orchestra Evening of Classics on Friday.
An annual fundraiser for the group, the night of music will cater to multiple musical interests with a combination of full orchestra performances, solos by local musicians, small group performances and appearances by the Peninsula Jazz Orchestra and the Redoubt Chamber Orchestra.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at the Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church, Artistic Director Tammy Vollom-Matturro will conduct the players and audience through the night. On a more improvisational note, she will hand off her baton to the winner of the baton auction and give one audience member the chance to make their directing debut at the end of the concert. All funds raised from the auction and from ticket sales will go to fund the orchestra’s operation.
“In years past, the baton keeps getting bid $100, $200, $300, and it keeps going up and up,” Vollom-Matturro said. “One year we had a 95-year-old lady conduct the orchestra, and one year we had a 9-year-old boy conduct the orchestra, so… it’s totally such a wide variety of people that bid on the baton and then they get their chance. We auction the baton right before intermission. During intermission, I teach the person how to conduct and then it’s their chance at the very end of the program.”
Other performances will be a bit more conventional, in keeping with the “classic” theme of the night, Vollom-Matturo said. The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra itself will play four pieces, with the solos and small groups sprinkled between them.
“Beethoven is a standard,” Vollom-Matturro said. “It seems whenever you think of orchestras you think, you know, Beethoven and Mozart in these pieces. The Brahms Hungarian march is short and sweet, and very well known, which I think audiences like to hear something that they know.”
In addition to featuring classic and well-loved music, the concert will focus on the talent of local individuals through its solos and small group performances. For many, the orchestra was a way back into music after moving to Alaska, said Executive Director Mellisa Nill. She joined the orchestra in 2004 and teaches private violin lessons.
“To me, what makes Evening of Classics different than the full symphony concerts is we really get to highlight the incredible talent that we have here in the area. Within the solos and the small groups, you get to really feature it,” Nill said. “With the big orchestra, everything is wonderful, but now you can really go, ‘Oh my gosh, that flute player is so amazing,’ or the vocalists we don’t get a chance to hear with the orchestra all that often.”
The orchestra begins practicing for the Evening of Classics about six or seven weeks in advance, Nill said.
“We always have some humor,” Vollom-Matturro said. “We are very serious when it comes to performing our music, but my thoughts on this (are) that we need to have fun, and I think if we have fun the audience will have fun.”
Tickets to the Evening of Classics will be available at the door for $15, and youth will be admitted free of charge.