Musical performances often take place in large performance halls.
Not so for Saturday evening’s event at the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds.
The audience is seated in one of the museum’s galleries. Performers are so close to the audience they sometimes glimpse the tapping of toes in rhythm with the music.
Saturday’s event is a quintet of musicians playing violin, viola, cello and flute, all members of Edmonds’ Cascade Symphony Orchestra. The concert is part of the museum’s monthly Music in the Museum series.
“It’s a really nice and different thing for a museum to offer,” said Norma Dermond, a cellist who is one of the evening’s five performers. “At most museums, you go and look at the art. This is kind of special.”
The gallery space with just 90 seats makes it an unusually intimate performance. “The audience is so close to us,” she said.
Dermond said the five musicians “are a very democratic group,” with any one musician able to suggest — and veto — what the group will play.
The quintet thought it appropriate to select some music by two gay composers to coincide with the museum’s current exhibit, “The Lavender Palette: Gay Culture and the Art of Washington State,” which closes the following weekend, on Jan. 26.
They settled on Benjamin Britten’s “Simple Symphony,” is what Dermond calls upbeat and “a great program opener.”
The second composition, “Andante Cantabile from String Quartet No. 1,” was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who lived a kind of tortured life due to his homosexuality, Dermond said. She described the composition as “very popular and musical.”
The quintet will also play Andreas Romberg’s “Flute Quintet in G major.” Dermond said she considers it an interesting piece even though it’s rarely performed. “It’s very obscure, in a way,” she said. “I don’t think it deserves to be.”
Then there’s Alexander Borodin’s “Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2,” begins with what she called a beautiful cello movement which is later joined by the violin. “It’s really a lovely piece.”
And there’s Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Allegretto from String Quartet No. 3,” which might be a surprise, since the composer is known for compositions that include harsh and dissonant sections. The piece begins spritely, then gets somewhat loud, then takes a step back. Dermond said it is the most challenging piece of the evening — “but we like it a lot.”
The performance concludes with “Libertango,” by the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla. “I just love it,” Dermond said. “It’s upbeat, happy, very rhythmic and very Spanish-sounding.”
About the performers
Helen Lee, who plays flute, is a Hong Kong native who grew up in Seattle and began her flute studies with Wendy Wilhelmi when she was 13. She received degrees in flute performance at the University of Washington and performs regularly with chamber groups and orchestras in the Northwest.
Luis Alcantara-Nenninger, who plays violin, is a studio musician, recording for movies and television. His violin was made by Alan and Sarah Balmforth in Lake Forest Park, commissioning them to make the instrument in 2017.
Veronica Ho, who also plays violin, is a Seattle native, a graduate of the UW’s music program. She plays with the Cascade Symphony and works in the tech industry.
Kathy Shaw, who plays viola, studied viola performance at UW, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University’s Early Music Institute.
Norma Dermond, who plays cello, is one of the founding members of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra and has performed in every concert of the orchestra’s 57 seasons.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
The next Music in the Museum concert is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 18 at Cascadia Art Museum, 190 Sunset Ave. S., Edmonds. Admission is $12 for members, $18 for non-members and includes complimentary admission to the museum exhibits. Order tickets online via tinyurl.com/CascadiaTksforMusic or by calling 425-336-4809.