Music and Mount Rainier’s Melting Glaciers

12 May

More than a concert:  Symphony Tacoma’s  Mountain and Sea gives artistic voice to Mount Rainier’s melting glaciers

Date: Saturday, May 13
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Pantages Theater, Tacoma
Tickets: stat at $19. Visit  or call 253-591-5894

The World Premiere of a new symphonic work.  A multimedia experience featuring video, glass art and music.  A symposium exploring changes to the delicate ecosystem of the Mountain and its glaciers.  A collaboration between the Arts and the National Park Service.  A once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity for area high school students.  Symphony Tacoma’s Mountain and Sea season finale is all this and more.

Conceived by Music Director Sarah Ioannides, Mountain and Sea is a collaborative effort between Symphony Tacoma, Museum of Glass, Hilltop Artists and Mount Rainier National Park to create a cross-disciplinary multimedia artistic event culminating with the Symphony’s season finale. Commemorating the Centennial of the National Parks System, the project will engage area residents in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate.

The capstone of the project is the multimedia world premiere of Fire-Mountain, a new symphonic work by Daniel Ott, commissioned by Symphony Tacoma.  A musical portrait of natural wonders, Ott’s Fire-Mountain utilizes 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma and 70-person Symphony Tacoma Voices. The work will be accompanied by an art film produced by Derek Klein, multimedia director at the Museum of Glass.  Projected above the stage during the premiere, the film will feature images of the mountain combined with footage shot at a recent glassblowing event in the hot shop, during which Hilltop Artist students created glass art using fire and ice in response to improvisatory music by Symphony Tacoma musicians.

Also on the program will be Grieg’s Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt, featuring “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and Debussy’s impressionist masterpiece, La Mer.  The concert, sponsored by Boeing and underwritten by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, will take place at 7:30pm Saturday, May 13 at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma.  For tickets, visit or call 253-591-5894.

Silent Sentinel

For the residents of Pierce County, Mount Rainier is a silent sentinel, always present on the horizon and guarding life in the South Sound area. In 2015, scientists released a sobering report warning of the rapid recession of the mountain’s glaciers—the largest on a single peak anywhere in the contiguous United States—and the ecological consequences that will soon follow.  The geography of the region, with its mountains and valleys intertwined with the many-fingered Salish Sea, is unique in the world.  Here, mountain and inland sea interact in ways not seen elsewhere.

Mountaintop Experience

On Wednesday, May 10, Sarah Ioannides will join the string orchestra students from Lincoln High School during a daylong field trip to Paradise on Mount Rainier. Symphony Tacoma has a special relationship with the Lincoln High students; string players from the Orchestra spend eight weeks during the school year embedded there as coaches and mentors.  On this day, the students will trade their instruments for snow shoes as they explore Paradise, hear presentations about the extensive glacial system, and learn from Ioannides and Ott about the creative process and how an artist responds to external events to create art.  Later in the week, the students will be guests of honor at the dress rehearsal, along with National Park Service officials.  Lincoln High School has the highest rate of poverty of any school in Pierce County.  Its thriving orchestra program, under the direction of Symphony Tacoma violinist Cynthia Iverson, is an important creative outlet and lifeline for students.

Not just a concert—an event

Prior to the concert, subscribers and donors will be invited to a fascinating Music Mixer panel discussion, held in Studio 3 at the Pantages, featuring Ioannides, Daniel Ott, climatologist Mike Warner, and Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. The lobby will include informational displays staffed by NPS officials.  Hilltop Artist students will also be on hand with displays of their glass art from the March 16 Fire and Ice event.  The panelists will also participate in a post-concert question-and-answer session in the lobby, open to all.

“Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region,” stated Sarah Ioannides.  “Through a process of community collaboration and working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, empowering participants to undertake an active role in protecting our region.”


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