Bellingham Symphony: Your Community. Your Orchestra.

Bellingham Symphony Orchestra

What’s in a name?

Well, if you’re an arts entity who has built a rock-solid reputation by presenting professional-level classical music to welcoming audiences for more than 40 years, thanks in large part to the creative contributions of talented community members from throughout your county, your moniker is what defines you.

That was why when the board of Whatcom Symphony Orchestra came together in the spring of 2018 and made the big decision to rebrand itself as Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, they didn’t do so lightly.

Executive Director Gail Ridenour—an oboist who also performs with the ensemble—says careful consideration was given to the topic. Thorough research and a series of consultations with members of the orchestra and interested parties in the community at large convinced the board the time was right to make a change.

“Frequently, orchestras at our level are named after the city in which they perform,” Ridenour says. “For the past four decades, we have performed predominately in the city of Bellingham, which has received national recognition. We believe this new opportunity will ultimately help us better serve our audiences throughout the county by aiding our efforts to connect with high-caliber guest artists and elevating our organization to achieve greater respect on the regional and national level.”

A new tagline, “Your Community. Your Orchestra,” succinctly reiterates that as the respected organization enters into its 44th season with a new look, it’ll still be with the continued aim to perform live orchestral music for citizens throughout Whatcom County. In other words, Bellingham Symphony Orchestra may be sporting a refreshed name, motto and logo, but its original mission remains intact.

Additional line items that remain the same include the organization’s commitment to engaging with the populace via youth programs such as Classical Kids Club and Music in the Schools, as well as pop-up performances like Classical Around Town, master classes for local musicians, pre-concert lectures and, of course, a lineup of world-class entertainment led by esteemed Music Director Yaniv Attar.

“The BSO Plays Bach,” a 2019/2020 season add-on taking place Fri. Aug. 23 at the Mount Baker Theatre, is a good example of the orchestra’s continued commitment to its home base. By featuring Bellingham Symphony Orchestra musicians as soloists—including Ridenour on oboe, violinist Shu-Hsin Ko, and flutist Deborah Arthur—they’re driving home the fact that area musicians are integral to their success.

Pianist Jon Kimura Parker will join the audible action when the season continues Sept. 29 with “Music in Motion.” At a “Borodin Meets Beethoven” concert on Nov. 17, cellist Amit Peled will lend his talents. Before the year comes to an end, the fourth annual “Holiday Magic” show will offer family-friendly fun (and hot cocoa). “Finlandia” (Feb. 9) and “Between Worlds” (March 15) are on the roster before the season wraps up Sun., May 31 with “Brahms’ Violin” and soloist Chee-Yun.

Whether you plan on attending one concert or springing for a season pass, remember that Bellingham Symphony Orchestra exists because of—and for—the people who support it. It’s a message Ridenour never forgets.

“Whatcom County is home to a talented and thriving arts community, and I am proud to call it my home as well,” she says. “I invite you to join us as we continue to celebrate our legacy of homegrown, powerful, beautiful and inspiring musical performance.”

WHAT: “The BSO Plays Bach”
WHEN: 7pm Fri., Aug. 23
WHERE: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
COST: $10-$33

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