Arts and Entertainment

Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra closes out the season with a Latin barnburner | GUEST COLUMN

Maestro Wesley Schulz leads the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra
Maestro Wesley Schulz leads the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra's presentation of “Ser·e·nade: A piece of music sung or played in the open air” at Bainbridge Performing Arts.
— image credit: Ben Aqua photo


“Pura Vida, my friend, Pura Vida!”

When I was a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin a colleague from Costa Rica would frequently greet me with these words each morning. He was excited to be in our graduate program and was always finding little things to celebrate and in which to be grateful. This phrase from his native country roughly translates as “pure life.” Costa Ricans greet one another with these words as well as use them to express thanks and gratitude.

On May 31 and June 1, the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra will close out its season with a barnburner program of Latin and Latin-inspired music under the title “Pura Vida.” We would like to thank YOU, our audience for a wonderful season of support and growth, and we look forward to sharing this program of catchy, toe-tapping music with you.

We will highlight works from a variety of composers from Mexico, Spain, Chile and even France. The latter may come as a surprise but indeed a whole host of composers from the 19th and 20th centuries were fascinated by the rhythm, orchestral color and vigor of Spanish and Latin-American music. Ravel, Debussy, Lalo, Chabrier and Bizet all wrote works in homage to Latin style and character.

I am incredibly pleased that one of Seattle’s most dazzling violinists, Emma McGrath, will be joining us to perform Édouard Lalo’s "Symphonie espagnole."

Ms. McGrath is the associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony and has been highly in demand all around the area as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborator. I was fortunate to have her as an artist-in-residence with the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestra where she made a lasting impression with her artistry and grace with the students.

"The Lalo" is a daunting work filled with technical feats and rapid scalar passages and I guarantee standout performances by Ms. McGrath.

As another season of classical music comes to a close for the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra I would like to convey my thanks for all of the community support for live music on Bainbridge Island. It is a privilege to work with such an enthusiastic group of musicians and when we look out into the audience and see so many smiling, supportive faces it makes all of the hard work pay off tenfold. We can’t wait to see you at “Pura Vida!” Don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Wesley Schulz is music director and conductor for the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra.

The Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra presents "Pura Vida!" May 31 and June 1.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (a pre-concert chat is 2:15 p.m. Sunday).

Tickets are $19 for adults, and $16 for seniors, students, military and teachers; each youth receives free admission when accompanied by a paying adult. Get tickets at 206-842-8569 or


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