By Marcy Stamper
Eleven-year-old Odessa Owens likes bluegrass and Celtic music — she’s even been composing her own songs in those styles — but she is equally enthused about the Vivaldi violin concerto she will play with the Pipestone Orchestra this weekend. “I like Vivaldi,” she said. “It just sounds cool.”
As the winner of Cascadia’s Christine Cherrington merit award, Owens is a featured soloist in the opening concert of Pipestone Music Days, when she performs the captivating first movement of the Vivaldi concerto on Saturday.
Owens’ concerto is one of three selections to highlight soloists from the orchestra. David Konigsmark will perform the first movement of Mozart’s concerto for French horn, and Matt Armbrust will play a Beethoven Romanza for violin and orchestra.
While not all the players are as young as Owens, they all started their music careers as children.
Konigsmark first picked up the Mozart concerto when he got his French horn at age 16. “Playing this is a really high mark in the horn repertoire,” he said. “It’s a labor of love.”
“Mozart is so playful and seems to bounce along effortlessly,” which can make the music seem deceptively simple, said Konigsmark. But preparing the piece for this performance made him appreciate how Mozart put music and emotion even in between the notes through subtle and sophisticated changes.
Armbrust, the third featured soloist, has been playing the violin since age 5. “I have a love affair with this Romanza — to have the opportunity to play it with an orchestra was awesome,” he said.
The Beethoven Romanza is a slow, luxuriant piece, which appeals to Armbrust because it provides an opportunity to pull out different tonal qualities from his violin. “I’m a singer — I’m using the violin as my playing voice,” he said.
The Pipestone Orchestra, under the direction of Tara Kaiyala Weaver, will also play the first movement of Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, written at the turn of the 20th century. The piece opens with a line resembling a bird call, and the music, as it is handed back and forth among the instruments of the orchestra, often conjures up a sense of being in nature.
The Pipestone Youth Orchestra, also directed by Kaiyala Weaver, will play another piece by Vivaldi — from his familiar and well-loved “The Four Seasons” — in addition to a selection from a Haydn symphony and a medley from the Harry Potter movies.
Sunday’s lineup of student recitals includes solos, duos and trios on guitar, violin, cello, piano and voice, with musical selections ranging from traditional folk songs to Bach.
In addition to the dozens of local musicians of all ages featured in the two concerts, several members of the Okanogan Valley Orchestra will join the Pipestone Orchestra, along with relatives of some of Pipestone’s regular musicians, some coming from as far away as Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.
The concerts are Saturday (May 23) at 7 p.m. and Sunday (May 24) at 1 p.m. in the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. Admission on Saturday night is $15 for adults, $5 for ages 12 through 18, and free for those under 12. Sunday’s admission is by donation, to support the Pipestone School of Music.