String trio offers a virtual valentine

Newport Symphony musicians bring a concert to your living room, and the Coaster Theatre does the same later this month with scenes from Shakespeare

Normally, if you’re going to see the Newport Symphony Orchestra, it would be at the Performing Center Arts with as many as 72 players on stage. And normally, you wouldn’t catch them on Valentine’s Day, because the schedule usually calls for January and March concerts. Normally, too, you wouldn’t expect one-price-fits-all or the intimacy of a living room chat.

But then, of course, these aren’t normal times.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Violinist Alistair Kok will host Newport Symphony Orchestra musicians in his home for a virtual Valentine's Day concert.
Violinist Alistair Kok will host Newport Symphony Orchestra musicians in his home for a virtual Valentine’s Day concert.

This Valentine’s Day, the orchestra is hosting an intimate evening performance by the string trio of Alistair Kok, Julie Asparro, and Erik Nils Velasquez, along with conductor Adam Flatt. The concert will be recorded live and followed by a conversation with the audience, Flatt, and musicians.

The idea behind the performance is to enhance people’s lives despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19, which has seen the Newport Performing Arts Center closed, said Don Nelson, the orchestra’s executive director.

“There are a lot of videos on YouTube where people can watch, but they are not participating,” Nelson said. “They are seeing people they may usually see at concerts or even online. It’s a way for people to get together at this individual time, both in keeping with the symphony’s mission to enhance quality of life on the Oregon Coast, and to help each individual person who is attending.”

The 7 p.m. concert will include the Adagio from J.S. Bach’s Viola da Gamba Sonata in G Major, Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, Op. 9 No. 1, and Serenade in C Major for String Trio by Dohnányi. The performance will be recorded in violinist Kok’s living room in Portland, where ceilings are vaulted and the ambiance airy and light, Flatt said. The live, in-house recording also eliminates the need to find accommodations for the musicians who normally stay with local homeowners when visiting the coast. Those welcome mats aren’t quite as abundant during a pandemic.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to present a performance during this pandemic when we are not able to gather in person,” Kok said, noting that the home setting is much more intimate than the usual venue of the Performing Arts Center. “We’re really excited about this particular program. We found some real gems in the string trio literature. It runs the gamut from 1740, a piece by Bach, early chamber by Beethoven from the classical period — really fine string trio that he wrote in preparation before he wrote string quartets. The other major work is a string trio by Ernst Von Dohnányi, written in 1904. Then we have a little valentine surprise at the end of the concert.”

Tickets are $25 and are good for everyone in a single household using one device. Others viewing on a separate device will need to buy a ticket.

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“It could be one or six or seven people watching in that particular home, having dinner or dessert and wine and enjoying it,” Nelson said. “For some, it’s more of a personal thing with just themselves and family. Others have friends over and/or relatives and make it more of a get together.”

ALSO COMING TO A LIVING ROOM NEAR YOU, Don’t Fear Shakespeare, virtual theater performed by the cast and production team from the Coaster Theatre Playhouse.

Don’t Fear Shakespeare, virtual theater performed by the cast and production team from the Coaster Theatre Playhouse. The performance will stream via Coaster’s YouTube channel and can be viewed via the YouTube app on any device or watched directly from the Coaster page beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and continuing through Feb. 27.

From the website: “This collection of scenes from classic Shakespearian plays and sonnets has been created to entertain Shakespearean novices and experts alike. We welcome one and all to join us for this fun and accessible take on these classic tales. Huzzah!”

The performance will stream via Coaster’s YouTube channel and can be viewed via the YouTube app on any device or watched directly from the Coaster page beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and continuing through Feb. 27. There is no charge, but donations are welcome. 

FINALLY, GIVEN THE SEASON, it’s all too apt that the Oregon Coast Aquarium should be feeling the love – and they are with news that the nonprofit has been awarded a $500,000 challenge grant from the Marcia H. Randall Foundation for Phase 1 of its capital campaign. The aquarium will use the grant to construct an admissions annex, remodel and expand the entry, great hall and café, and connect with the new children’s nature play area. The Oregon-based Marcia H. Randall Foundation will match all gifts and pledges made to the construction costs between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Donations of any amount can be made on the capital campaign website. Questions? Email: campaign@aquarium.org

The Oregon Coast Aquarium plans to build a new ticketing kiosk and remodel the entryway, among other changes
The Oregon Coast Aquarium plans to build a new ticketing kiosk and remodel the entryway, among other changes

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

About the author

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pups Luna and Monkey.

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