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Living the ‘Pure Life’ on stage at Bainbridge Performing Arts

Emma McGrath, of the Seattle Symphony,  will join the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra as a soloist during this weekend’s production of “Pura Vida!” The show will present audiences with music from numerous exotic locales, including Mexico, Spain, Chile and more. - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Emma McGrath, of the Seattle Symphony, will join the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra as a soloist during this weekend’s production of “Pura Vida!” The show will present audiences with music from numerous exotic locales, including Mexico, Spain, Chile and more.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

“Pura Vida” is an expression from Costa Rica which means “pure life.” It is a phrase used when greeting, or giving thanks and gratitude.

How appropriate then, that it should be the title of the season finale performance of the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, said BSO music director and program conductor Wesley Schulz.

“We would like to thank [the audience] for a wonderful season of support and growth,” he said. “We look forward to sharing this program of catchy, toe-tapping music with [them].”

The production boasts the musical stylings of a variety of exotic locales.

“We will highlight works from a variety of composers from Mexico, Spain, Chile, and even France,” Schulz said. “The latter may come as a surprise, but indeed a whole host of composers from the nineteenth and twentieth 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.”

Composers celebrated throughout the production include Édouard Lalo, Pascual Marquina Narro, Emmanuel Chabrier, Alfonso Leng and others.

The orchestra’s season finale production also boasts the appearance of a special guest musician, Emma McGrath.

“I am incredibly pleased that one of Seattle’s most dazzling violinists, Emma McGrath, will be joining us to perform Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole,” Schulz said. “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 [among] the students. The Lalo is a daunting work filled with technical feats and rapid scalar passages, and I guarantee standout performances by Ms. McGrath.”

McGrath, who was recently described by one Seattle Times reporter as a “first-magnitude star in the making,” said that she was excited to be playing with the island orchestra and reuniting with Schulz.

“Wes suggested it,” she said of the piece she will perform for her island debut. “There are five movements which is very unusual. Usually concertos are three movements.”

As for the rather notorious difficulty of Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, McGrath said the reputation was not hyperbole.

“You get a lot more moods, I think, in this piece,” she explained. “It’s really difficult.”

BSO will hold two performances of “Pura Vida!” The first begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31 and the second at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 1.

There will also be a special pre-concert chat at 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $19 each for adult patrons, $16 for seniors, students, military members and teachers. They can be purchased at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org.

BSO was founded in 1972, then known as the Bainbridge Orchestra, and brought under the BPA organizational umbrella in 1993. The symphony serves a critical musical role in the community, uniting artists spanning generations and skill levels and from all walks of life to share their love of music and learn from each other.

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