Sarah Ioannides-project-Saxophone Fusion

Together in Music

Rosemary Ponnekanti, South Sound Magazine

Classical music reviews don’t often include the audience as an integral part of the performance. But everyone in the almost-full Pantages concert by Symphony Tacoma Saturday night — their first in person since the pandemic began — realized this crucial point: If music brings our community together, then the audience is just as vital a part as the performers.

First up — after an emotional rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with conductor Sarah Ioannides encouraging audience singing — was Color Express, the first movement of the first symphony by Patrice Rushen. Four-time Grammy winner Rushen is known for mastering a multitude of genres: jazz, pop, R&B, and classical. She’s a singer-songwriter who’s also a TV music producer and director, concert pianist, and composer.

Her aptly named Color Express charges through the orchestra, pulling apart its colorful timbres in a language that’s like Bernstein in a hip New York jazz bar. The ascending syncopated theme rises through dancing violins, solo woodwind and laidback brass, with a futuristic fusion that’s always sophisticated, never trite.


Ioannides remained superbly in control, (…), insisting on wider and wider dynamic arcs and gracefully reminding the audience that those moments between movements — without applause — are the hushed expressions of a thousand people all feeling the same thing.

Symphony Tacoma promises to be Tacoma’s symphony, bringing the South Sound community together through music. The rest of its 2021-22 season echoes that promise, featuring composers and soloists from the region and the world, female and male, from a diversity of races, from the LGBTQ community and across the centuries to finish with an expression of light and hope beyond death (Mozart’s Requiem and the youth-composed Eternal Light).

It’s good to be back together in music.

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