Photo courtesy of Pat Strange | Bridges, Bainbridge Island’s newly formed string orchestra, will perform their debut concert, “New Beginnings,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at Bainbridge Performing Arts.

Photo courtesy of Pat Strange | Bridges, Bainbridge Island’s newly formed string orchestra, will perform their debut concert, “New Beginnings,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at Bainbridge Performing Arts.

Strike up the strings: Bridges’ eclectic debut show set for BPA stage

Brass be gone, this show’s all about the strings.

Bridges, Bainbridge Island’s newly formed string orchestra, will perform its debut concert, “New Beginnings,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at Bainbridge Performing Arts.

The 13-member conductor-less outfit, made up of members of the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, is led by artistic director and violinist Pat Strange, who said the group’s name is both practical and symbolic.

“Stringed instruments have bridges that hold the strings up, [so] Bridges just seemed to fit,” she said.

“Also [there’s] the concept of bridging the performers with the audience, bridging the audience with the composers and the music, and the whole concept of connection, I think, was important too. And after the fact I realized, ‘Oh, we do live on Bainbridge, don’t we?’”

Strange said that string orchestra music has been missing from Bainbridge Island’s classical music scene, and Bridges aims to fill the void.

“In orchestras, so many times it’s full orchestra, you’re playing with other instruments, and it’s very rare that the strings really get to shine and have a piece that’s just for them,” she said.

“So I’ve been thinking about it for quite a few years and it just seemed like the time was right to see, form a group and let’s explore the music that’s out there.”

What’s out there is actually quite a bit — and a diverse selection it is.

“The concert is very eclectic,” Strange said.

“There’s different genres, different styles, different nationalities. I think it will be a very exciting and interesting concert for the audience, so it won’t be a lot of the same kind of music and everything from the [Carl] Nielsen and [Leoš] Janácek are more romantic, written in the late 1800s, to Raymond Scott, who wrote music for big bands in the 1940s and Carl Stalling took his music and used it in Loony Tunes cartoons. So you’ll probably go, ‘Oh, that sounds familiar.’”

The concert will last slightly more than an hour, with a 15-minute intermission in the middle.

The players are Strange, Reid Blickenstaff, Tom Monk, Larry Telles, DeeAnn Sisley, Sara Hall, Tamara Meredith, Dorothy Foster, Kathy Connelly, Christine Edwards, Barbara Deppe, Arlayne Eseman, Janet Marie, Susan Tolley and Malinda Griffin.

The “New Beginnings” program includes: “Suite for String Orchestra” by Janácek, “Adagio” from “Gayane Suite” by Aram Khachaturian, “El Dia Que Me Quieras (The Day That You Love Me)” by Carlos Gardel, “Summa” by Arvo Pärt, “October” by Eric Whitacre, “Suite for String Orchestra Opus 1” by Nielsen, and “Powerhouse” by Scott.

The difference in a listener’s experience between a string and a full orchestra, Strange said, is one of atmosphere and intimacy.

“With the string sound it’s a unique sound,” she said. “I think there’s a lushness and a fullness to the strings. In terms of the visuals, I’m really into the visuals of a concert rather than just have the ensemble sit in one spot and play the music. I like using different kinds of lighting so it’s an aural as well as a visual experience.”

Every member of Bridges, except the cellists, will stand during the performance, which will be accompanied by shifting lighting arrangements and two videos.

“Two of the pieces are going to have a video projected behind us,” Strange said. “[They] weren’t written for that, but I think it’ll enhance the music and get the audience in the mood for the piece. It kind of pulls you in.”

Regarding the future of the group, Strange said ideally they would stage no more than two performances a year going forward, during the time between BSO seasons.

“I think we’d all like to continue,” she said. “It was sort of a trial when we got started, just to see if we all gelled. Because with any kind of a smaller ensemble we all have to have fun. That’s the number-one thing, is having fun. If we’re not having fun, why bother?”

Proceeds from the show — admission is by donation — will benefit the BSO.

Find out more at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org.

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