Orchestra plans multifaceted, multimedia performances

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Tomoka Raften’s name and to show that the cost for the student master class is $25. Dates of some NoonTime Tunes also have been corrected. The Homer News regrets the errors.

The Kenai Peninsula’s summer charms include our own Kenai Peninsula Orchestra Summer Music Festival, an annual tradition since 1998. This year, the festival will feature performers and music from around the world and visual arts alongside the music.

The orchestra calls this “the biggest little music festival in the world.” The “biggest” claim refers to the orchestra’s inclusion of the entire Kenai Peninsula as its neighborhood. The festival includes a series of informal lunchtime performances and four concerts in Homer, Kenai and Soldotna.

The NoonTime Tunes began July 14 and continue every Tuesday throughout the month. For the last week of July and the first week of August, the lunchtime performances will take place every weekday. These showcase local instrumentalists presenting free music in area eateries and other public places. See the schedule on this page for the Homer venues. Tune times will run from about noon to 1 p.m.

The main festival kicks off July 26 in Soldotna. The Peninsula Jazz Orchestra will play from 2-4 p.m. in the new pavilion at Soldotna Creek Park in conjunction with the annual Soldotna Progress Days. Most of the jazz players are also in the peninsula orchestra, said Mellisa Nill, the KPO’s executive director.

The featured concerts begin July 31 in Soldotna. Performances will consist of two distinct programs, each presented both in Homer and on the central peninsula. 

Headlining the concerts is the Madison String Quartet, which has been the festival’s “quartet in residence” since 2008. Based in New Jersey, its members are cellist Gerall Hieser, viola player Michael Avagiano and violinists Evelyn Estava and Rebecca Harris-Lee. The quartet is comfortable in a wide array of musical genres but specializes in Hispanic music from both Iberia and Latin America.

The first concert is “The Madison String Quartet and Friends,” with chamber music featuring the quartet and KPO stalwarts Mark Wolbers on clarinet, Maria Allison on piano and Tomoka Raften on flute. The quartet will select the program, to be announced later. The Homer performance will be Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church on the Sterling Highway.

The second concert, titled “Pictures of Latin America,” will be a multimedia gala featuring lively pieces and visual arts. 

The program includes Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Estancia” Latin dances, Spaniard Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez” and Russian Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The Homer concert will be Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Homer High School Mariner Theatre. The festival’s final concert will be Aug. 8 in Kenai.

The Rodrigo piece will feature soloist Armin Abdihodzic. Originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Abdihodzic has played around the world and teaches guitar at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

During the performances of “Pictures at an Exhibition,” the orchestra will present visual art from local talent based on Mussorgsky’s music and pictures by his friend, Vicktor Hartmann, who inspired the original piece. Slides of the images will be projected behind the musicians as they play. This is the first time the orchestra has done a multimedia production like this, and she is still sorting the pictures, Nill said.

“We have some wonderful submissions already,” she said. “I’m excited about it.”

Come August, some of the midday shows will feature the guest artists. Tony Cecere, a French horn player whose wife is in the quartet, will play with Wolbers on Aug. 4 at the Bunnell Street Arts Center. On Aug. 5, the quartet will perform at the Homer Public Library. And on Aug. 6, guitar soloist Abdihodzic will play at the Pratt Museum.

Tickets for the concerts cost $20 general admission or $15 for orchestra supporters. Tickets are available at the door, at the Homer Bookstore, or online through the orchestra’s website, at http://kpoalaska.com/events/summer-music-festival/, until 12 hours before show time. 

While here for the festival, the quartet members will attend a special performance and “meet-and-greet” in Kenai on Aug. 2 from 4-6 p.m. at the Kenai Senior Center.

They also will teach a master class for area string students. The class will meet Aug. 4, from 2-4 p.m. in Ninilchik at the Kenai Peninsula Fairground. The class is for any student with at least 2 years of playing experience and will be flexible. Options include chamber music clinic, solo masterclass or technique clinics. It costs $25.

On the heels of the festival, the KPO is partnering with the Wild Shore New Music event, which runs Aug. 5-11 in Homer and Kenai. Its main stage Homer concert will be Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Bunnell Street Arts Center.

Conductor and artistic director for the peninsula orchestra is Tammy Vollom-Matturro.

Flautist Terry Kallenberg founded the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in 1983. The orchestra provided a way for peninsula musicians to perform together and to invite guest artists from Anchorage and beyond to share their talents with area music lovers. 

The Homer Council on the Arts and Pier One Theatre nurtured the group during the early years. In 2009, the organization had grown enough to incorporate as a non-profit organization on its own.

People, even those who don’t play musical instruments, are encouraged to join, and donations to the orchestra are tax deductible.

Shana Loshbaugh is a southern Kenai Peninsula writer.

Kenai Peninsula Orchestra 

Homer Schedule


Tuesday, July 21 & 27

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at the Sourdough Express Bakery

Wednesday, July 28

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at Land’s End Resort

Thursday, July 29

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at Two Sisters Bakery

Friday, July 30

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant

Saturday, July 31

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at Bishop’s Beach

Monday, Aug. 3

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at the Sourdough Express Bakery

7:30 p.m. – “The Madison String Quartet and Friends” chamber concert at Faith Lutheran Church

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Noon – Tony Cecere and Mark Wolbers at Bunnell Street Arts Center

Wednesday, Aug. 5

Noon – Madison String Quartet and guest (tba) at Homer Public Library

Thursday, Aug. 6

Noon – Armin Abdihodzic at the Pratt Museum

Friday, Aug. 7

Noon – NoonTime Tunes at
K-Bay Caffe

7:30 p.m. – “Pictures of Latin America” gala concert at Homer High School Mariner Theatre