ILWACO — For the second year, board members of the Water Music Festival Society (WMF), a Peninsula organization 27 years and running, have added another gem to their calendar. 

In the spirit of long-time Peninsula residents Barbara and Normand Poulshock, and their personal love affair with music, WMF presents “The Poulshock Concert Series — A Love Affair with Music.”

This concert will take place Sunday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m., at Hilltop Auditorium in Ilwaco. Tickets are $12 at the door and will feature Valentine goodies, baked by Andrea Patten, during intermission.

The “Love Affair with Music” is the second annual event featuring regional artists performing original music composed in the Northwest. Last year’s event, the concert’s debut, included selections of Poulshock composition performed by many young local musicians and singers who have been touched by the Poulshocks over the years through their teaching.

 

The Year in Music

WMF President Diane Marshall said, “Last year was our first year to honor the Poulshocks. It was kind of a big deal and was only supposed to happen once. But then we said, ‘Well, why not have a concert every year around Valentine’s Day in February, with a series featuring music of Northwest composers?’ So this is our second year.”

This concert is not a money-maker; it is simply a way to give back to the community by creating a tribute to Pacific Northwest composers and musicians. The WMF board is remarkable both for its longevity and the depth of the musical culture that it brings to the Peninsula. 

WMF is responsible for a round robin of musicality that stretches throughout the entire year: from Tuba Christmas in December; to this Valentine’s Day concert; to the Music in the Gardens fundraiser in June; the Jazz and Oysters event, which happens in August; and the Water Music festival itself, which takes place in October.

 

Love Affair with Music: The Program

This year’s “Love Affair with Music” tribute will include the Astoria Tuba Quartet made up of founder Dennis Hale, Lee Stromquist, Bob Joiner and Brian Bergman. Among other pieces in their repertoire, they will be playing a composition by Normand Poulshock. 

Astoria Tuba Quartet was formed in 1980 and its current members have performed together since 1997. Hale plays F tuba; Joiner and Bergman play euphoniums; and Stromquist plays double bass F tuba.

Stromquist, who often arranges music for the quartet, said, “We are doing a piece of Normand’s called ‘Pick Yourself Up’ — he arranged several things for our tuba quartet over the years.”

“Of the four of us Bob writes and arranges mostly jazz pieces and I tend to do the Christmas music — there’s not much holiday music for tubas.”

In addition to the tuba quartet, regional musicians and remarkably-talented duo Rhonda Ringering (piano) and Pamela Goldsmith (guitar) will be performing for the second half of the event. Ringering is a recording artist and piano instructor who has won awards both for her performances and her instructional techniques. Goldsmith, a guitar instructor at the St. Johns Community Center, is also an adjunct faculty member at Linfield College.

Marshall said of the duo, “I was so pleased when Rhonda called me and asked to participate. Their portion of the concert will include the music of Northwest composers, which is our stated theme for this annual Poulshock concert series. One of the major pieces Rhonda and Pamela will play is by Northwest composer Jason Heald.” 

“Jason will be coming as well and will be in the audience — we might even have him say a few brief words about his composition,” she added.

 

Composer Jason Heald

Heald, reached by phone in Roseburg, Ore., will indeed be present at the concert and had this to say about the piece, “Suite for Guitar and Piano;” “The guitar and piano are really quite different instruments in terms of their dynamic potential, although they cover similar territory too.

“One of the interesting things is that often it is solving a problem that is the creative force behind the creative process — and that was the case here.”

Heald, born in Anchorage, Alaska, went to Portland to go to school and simply stayed in Oregon. He received his bachelor of arts in political science from Lewis and Clark University then switched to a music career. He earned a masters degree from the University of Portland and his doctoral degree from the University of Oregon. He is currently the director of music at Umpqua Community College.

“I’ve been playing professionally since I was 14 — I play the bass guitar — so it was interesting to have the challenge of writing for the guitar and piano, two instruments with very different dynamic ranges. So adjusting to the loudness and softness of the two instruments is a major part of how I created the piece.”

The suite is in five movements and, according to Heald, each movement is based roughly on the rhythms and forms of a series of baroque dances.

When asked to describe his composition, Heald said, “It’s contemporary but accessible.”

Support Local Talent

It is remarkable for an arts organization of this caliber to have continued for such a long-standing run in the Peninsula community, particularly given the economic climate of the past several years. It is well known that the ability and talent for music must start early, and, as Marshall commented, “Our community has been fortunate in having Barbara Poulshock, who has been instrumental in nurturing young talent on the Peninsula.”

Marshall continued, “Often we have Dane Gregory, August Davenport, Brier Gregory, Brooke Flood and Anja Patten, or Madison Baker performing in our concerts. They are examples of young local musicians who have been touched by Barbara and her passion for music.”

“They wouldn’t be where they are, doing what they’re doing — performing in front of audiences in this community — without the support of the Poulshocks over the years. Barbara is a wonderful person and teacher. I call her our local treasure.”

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