The Nose: Tacoma symphony can redefine the high in ‘highbrow’

TheNose@thenewstribune.comMay 2, 2014 

Seattle-themed dishware and 206 glassware at Tacoma’s Metropolitan Market? Oh, the humanity!


Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

These are giddy days for classical music in T-Town. For the first time in two decades, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra is bringing on a new conductor — though it’s not a full-time gig, so maybe she’s a semiconductor.

Sarah Ioannides is the first female baton-swinger in symphony history. She’s young (younger than 45, anyway). A selection committee member described her as having a “mischievous twinkle in her eye.”

She’s a choice worthy of a hundred bravos. Tacoma, you see, ain’t a highfalutin’ symphony town. Our blue collar is barely concealed under our thrift-store tuxedo. Don’t be surprised if we clap at the wrong times and forget to turn down the “Louie, Louie” ringtone on our cellphones.

We need our horizons expanded. Our audience, too.

So let’s hope Ioannides puts that mischievous twinkle to work immediately. We’d like to see her turn over a new leaf.

By that we mean the distinctive green leaf often seen on the front of tie-dyed T-shirts.

Introducing, classical grass. They’re smoking it in Denver, so it must be cool.

Rocky Mountain Haydn: Legalized pot was elevated to a new stature in that other state this week when the Colorado Symphony Orchestra announced a concert series sponsored by the cannabis industry.

Three shows. Bring your own bud.

Jerry Kern, executive director of the financially struggling CSO, explained it to the Denver Post this way:

“We see ourselves as connecting classical music with all of Colorado,” he said. “Part of our goal is to bring in a younger audience and a more diverse audience, and I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra.”

Indeed, sir.

Word up. Fo shizzle.

Think of it as a gateway drug to get the young hipsters hooked on the fine arts.

And now that marijuana sales are about to start in Washington, the Tacoma Symphony must get a piece of the action — before the Seattle Symphony beats us to it.

Staying relevant is the key to survival, as TSO already knows. That’s why it performs every year at the Washington State Fair, its lush sounds rising amid the smells of krusty pups and carny sweat. And that’s why it played a show of video game music at the Pantages Theater in 2012, while laser lights swirled like an acid trip.

These are nice token efforts.

What’s needed now is a sustained tokin’ effort.

Imagine the possible theme concerts:

 • An evening of doobies and Debussy.

 • Bongs and Brahms.

 • The Essential Jimi Hendrix, reinterpreted for flute and oboe.

 • Concerto No. 420 in the key of THC.

 • And for the annual children’s program: Puff the Magic Dragon.

Holy smokes, Batman!: As if working 60 whole days this year wasn’t enough, state lawmakers moonlight as superheroes, too.

It seems to be catching on in the Tacoma area.

A couple of years ago, then-House member and now Sen. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma left her oatmeal to interrupt a burglary at a neighbor’s house.

Now this week, Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting was in his car at the corner of East 26th Street and East Portland Avenue when he witnessed a two-car crash, saw smoke and leaped into action.

Hunt tells us he helped another good Samaritan rescue a man from the burning car.

“I’m just glad the guy was alright,” he said. “I’m just glad the sunroof was open.”

We’re just glad Hunt and Darneille haven’t started wearing capes, tights and masks.

Dishes and disses: At the Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District the other day, we stumbled on a display of “exclusive” collectible “Seattle scape” dishware for sale. The plates and saucers are trimmed with the Seattle skyline. The glasses are stamped with the 206 area code.

We felt offended for a moment. But look on the bright side: At least that store’s no longer named Queen Anne Thriftway.

How they make the sausage: At Monday’s Tacoma charter review committee meeting, the members were copy-editing by committee, and making amendments inside of amendments — and trying to make more amendments inside those, but the clerk put her foot down.

Former Mayor Harold Moss, watching from the audience and tired of the long night’s session, said: “I miss having a gavel.”

We miss you having a gavel, too, sir.

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