Arts and Entertainment

Orchestra season premier brings the drama to Bainbridge

Conductor Wesley Schulz directs the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra through a rehearsal session. - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Conductor Wesley Schulz directs the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra through a rehearsal session.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

The Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra will officially kick off its 41st season, not with a bang, but with a baritone.

And a soprano. And a tenor.

The orchestra, along with Bainbridge Performing Arts, has partnered with four regional opera singers to present the unique musical experience “Toi Toi Toi - An Opera Showcase,” which will include renditions of classic music from such masters of the field as Mozart, Weber, Verdi and more.

“For me there is nothing better than watching a great singer interact with a live orchestra,” said Wesley Schulz, program conductor.

“There are a few art forms, opera being one of them, in which multiple aspects of the performing arts unite for a common cause,” he said. “For me opera is about bringing three of the greatest aspects of the humanities together under one roof: singing, orchestral music and acting.”

“Toi Toi Toi” — the title itself is a phrase often used by opera singers to wish one another good luck — features the vocal stylings of Rachel DeShon, soprano; Sonia Perez, mezzo-soprano; John Coons, tenor; and Thomas Thompson, baritone.

Together with BSO, the vocalists have assembled a special collection for the performance designed to give the audience a “greatest hits” of the classic opera including Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz from Eugen Onegin,” Nielsen’s “Saul and David, Prelude to Act II” and arias and ensemble pieces by Mozart and the other notable composers.

“You will hear 10 arias and ensemble pieces as well as three orchestra-only works coming from all across the operatic repertory,” Schulz explained.

“We will perform dance numbers, songs that muse love, songs about the fickleness of love and more. We have an all-star cast of some of the best young vocal talent in the Pacific Northwest.”

Additionally, this season’s premier will feature eight new members of the orchestra: one flute, one oboe, one bassoon, two trumpets, one trombone, one cello and two violins.

Perez, making her Bainbridge performance debut, explained that having four distinctly different performers allows the orchestra to showcase a more eclectic mixture for the audience.

“It’s a ‘best of show,’” Perez said. “We’re doing a very varied repertoire. It’s a lot easier for most people to digest.”

For those who may be reticent to give opera a chance, Schulz advises that they consider opera for what it is: the rock music of its day.

“It’s the original ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol,’” he said. “What are all rock songs about? Love. That’s what these songs are about. This was the popular music of its day.”

None of the pieces featured in this event are in English, but lyric translations will be included in the program.

“It’s so much fun to watch,” said orchestra viola player Julie Katana. “Oh, my, they’re [the singers] good. It’s hard to play when you’re grinning so much.”

This unique program will play for two nights only, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets are available now and can be purchased online at or by phone at 206-842-8569. The cost is $19 for adults or $16 for seniors, military and teachers. Youth 18 years old and younger are admitted free with a paying adult.


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