Plateau’s ‘best kept secret’ — Sammamish Symphony Orchestra — kicks off new season

February 22, 2011

By Tiffany Shedrick

On Thursday nights, Kathryn Boudreau-Stroud and Victoria Tkatch meet in a large, empty studio.

Somewhat dimly lit, the space slowly fills with more people and the room begins to hum with varying chords and notes.

Although Boudreau-Stroud is a math teacher and Tkatch is a ninth-grade student, the intent of their meeting is not for school purposes. Instead, they are there to play music together with the other musicians who comprise the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra.

The nonprofit, volunteer-based organization, originally known as the Providence Point Players, has been a staple on the plateau since 1994.

Kicking off its 13th season, the symphony orchestra will take the stage to perform the Rachmaninoff “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor,” on Feb. 27.

“It’s one of those pieces where the orchestra is just as important as the soloist,” R. Joseph Scott, music director and conductor, said. “It’s just a thriller for the audience to hear and for us to play.”

This will be Maestro Scott’s 11th season leading the musicians. The Oregon native has been a fixture in the Northwest for more than 50 years, contributing to the musical development of youth, as well as founding the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra.

At practice, sitting just a few chairs apart, Boudreau and Tkatch pick up their instruments, tune them and begin to play with the 80 other members who make up the diverse group.

Boudreau-Stroud is a teacher at Pacific Cascade Middle School; she started playing the piano at a young age. Soon after, she picked up a secondary instrument, the viola, and has been playing since middle school. She has played in the symphony orchestra for a few years now.

“SSO is the best kept secret on the plateau and it really is unbelievable how it performs,” Boudreau said. “There is a sense of community and bonding from listening to and playing music.

“There is a synergistic effect that can’t be beaten playing with the orchestra.”

That sense of community stretches across not only the musicians’ relationships with each other but also to the audience.

Scott said he isn’t afraid of choosing unfamiliar pieces of music to play in concert. Although attracting a big audience is one of the goals, he said he also hopes to educate them about all periods of classical music.

A part of this learning process involves encouraging the younger generation to participate in the symphony orchestra.

“The music programs in school are our future for the performing arts,” Scott said. “They need to pursue that given interest even if it’s not professionally. It’s extremely valuable.”

In her first year performing with the symphony orchestra, Tkatch sits as first chair bassoon. The 14-year-old attends Skyline High School and got involved with the symphony orchestra after seeing a newspaper advertisement.

“It looked like it would be cool to be a part of my city,” Tkatch said. “I like the idea that I can contribute.”

For Tkatch, the influence of her private bassoon instructor as well as other members of the symphony orchestra help her dream big for the future. Although she isn’t sure if she wants to become a professional musician, she realizes the opportunity is available.

“It’s cool to see how far you can go and how musicians at our age are not limited,” she said.

Both teacher and student share the goal of continuing their practice into the future.

“You never hear adults saying they wished they had never played a musical instrument growing up. It’s always the opposite,” Boudreau-Stroud said. “I wish I never gave this up or that or I wish I put more time into it.”

Tiffany Shedrick is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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