Symphony Tacoma Celebrates Classical Influences from Bohemia in Classics III



Saturday, February 26, 2022

7:30 pm

Pantages Theater

Sarah Ioannides, conductor

Bella Hristova, violin

Smetana: Vltava “The Moldau”

David Ludwig: Violin Concerto

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 “Titan”

Tacoma, WA—Symphony Tacoma looks to Eastern Europe and expressions of love for its third of six classics concerts in its 75th Anniversary Season. Classics III will take place Saturday, February 26, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pantages Theater. This concert was originally scheduled for the 2020-21 season but was rescheduled when live performances were canceled due to the pandemic.

“I am so happy to finally bring back this concert!” Music Director Sarah Ioannides. “I hope its messages of love and revelation will be more touching and poignant than ever—since we have been apart, the striking beauty of live music is felt more richly than ever before.”

The concert begins with Bedřich Smetana’s Vlata, a love letter to his homeland. Considered the father of Czech music, Smetana captured his country’s musical style in Vlast, a set of six symphonic poems that portray the history, legends, landscapes and folklore of Bohemia. The most famous of this set, The Moldau, is a tone poem based on the Vlata River (its Czech name). The work depicts the flow of the river from the mountains, through the Czech countryside to the city of Prague, and ultimately to its merge with the Elbe as it flows out to sea.

David Ludwig, the recently-appointed Dean and Director of Music at The Juilliard School, wrote his violin concerto for violinist Bella Hristova, his wife, at the time of their marriage. Ludwig comments, “I only know of a few concertos written by composers for first performances by their spouses, and I don’t know of any that are motivated by the idea of marriage itself, as this one is. My concerto comes with musical references to partnership, empathy and communion, as it imagines the before, during and after a traditional wedding ceremony.

“Both of our backgrounds are Eastern European,” continues Ludwig. “The piece is full of dance music from that part of the world, including several dances native to Bella’s native Bulgaria.” To further personalize the work, Ludwig also drew influence from Bella’s father, composer Yuri Chichkov who passed away when she was a young child. “Chichkov was a wonderful and well-known Russian composer, who himself wrote a violin concerto. After a year of hunting, I tracked down that concerto and quoted from his second movement at a place in my own second movement–as a way to include him in our marriage.”

“This work is one of the most musically touching tributes of love, dedication and remembrance,” comments Ioannides. “It is not only a work of pure brilliance but thoughtful sincerity, charm and happiness.”

Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 1 “Titan” closes the concert. Inspired by Jean Paul Richter’s novel, Titan, this work describes a “strong, heroic man, his life and sufferings, his battles and defeats at the hands of Fate.” The piece mobilized Mahler’s legacy as a symphonist with visions of nature, and a finale of thunderbolts and lightning. To build the story, Mahler incorporates popular 18th century folk elements, marches and dances—including the Ländler, a folk dance in 4 time which was popular in Austria, Bavaria, German Switzerland, and Slovenia at the time.

“This program is akin to a voyage through landscape, life and stories of people from the heart of Eastern Europe, drawing from timeless folkloristic elements and the region’s songs and dances,” says Ioannides.

“As we continue with our 75th Anniversary Season, we want to assure our audience that their safety—and that of our musicians, staff and volunteers—is our top priority,” said Executive Director Karina Bharne. “We are continuing to require all patrons to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or results of a negative test taken within 72 hours of concert time, as well as wear masks at all times while in the concert hall. Our full safety protocols can be found on our website.

“We look forward to seeing you at the Pantages!”

Tickets for this concert are on sale now through the Symphony Tacoma Box Office. Prices range from $24 to $85. To purchase tickets or season subscriptions, visit or call 253-272-7264.

Symphony Tacoma’s 2021-2022 season is generously sponsored by MultiCare and Tacoma Creates. The Classics III concert is sponsored by LeRoy Jewelers, R.L. Ray Violin Shop, Timothy E. Williams and Northwest Public Broadcasting.


Acclaimed for her passionate, powerful performances, beautiful sound, and compelling command of her instrument, Bella Hristova is a young violinist with a growing international career, touted by The Washington Post as a “a player of impressive power and control.” Born in Pleven, Bulgaria to Russian and Bulgarian parents, Ms. Hristova began violin studies at the age of six. She studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and earned her Artist Diploma at Indiana University. A passionate proponent of new music and composers, Ms. Hristova commissioned iconic composer Joan Tower to write “Second String Force” for unaccompanied violin, which she premiered and performed throughout the United States. Ms. Hristova lives in Philadelphia with her husband, composer David Serkin Ludwig, and their four cats. She performs on a 1655 Nicolò Amati violin.


Building community through music. Inspiring audiences with live musical experiences that transcend tradition for 75 years, Symphony Tacoma annually performs concerts for nearly 20,000 citizens and provides education programs for 7,000 children and adults in Pierce County and the Greater Puget Sound region. The orchestra comprises more than 80 professional musicians and a volunteer chorus of 70. Music Director Sarah Ioannides is renowned for her passionate conducting, creativity, arts collaboration, and commitment to innovation and diversity, making Symphony Tacoma a vital part of Tacoma’s cultural landscape.


Symphony Tacoma is committed to providing a safe and healthy concert environment for audiences, musicians and staff for the 2021-2022 Season. All patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination or results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the concert date. Patrons will also be required to wear a mask while attending Symphony Tacoma performances, whether or not they have been vaccinated. Please visit our website for updated information.

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The Parallel Powers of Music and Athletes

Sarah Ioannides’ dynamic presence on the podium for Symphony Tacoma has won praise from audiences and critics internationally. The New York Times has described her as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority.”

The physicality of Ioannides’ career requires dedication and perseverance, much like an athletic endeavor. She shares her story of injury, healing and music as a lens through which others might envision succeeding in anything that requires both mental and physical discipline.

“I’ve always had a passion for running,” says Ioannides, “but… with having two knee surgeries, conquering Lyme disease, and bringing up three children—while living in three states from coast to coast—my physical strength needed recovery… an ongoing challenge with constant travel.”

After moving to Tacoma, she says, she committed to resolve her knee struggles and to regain balance and strength. In 2017 she met Alison Unterreiner, PT.

Unterreiner says physical therapy relies on rehabilitating systematically and deliberately. And running requires a person to train effectively and to be patient for the results. Both physical therapy and running require self-discipline to do the work and to wait for the recovery or performance.

When Unterreiner and her husband attended Symphony Tacoma’s opening concert, the physical therapist was entranced by the performance and the music. But her PT self also focused on the conductor and the physicality of her job.

Ioannides told Unterreiner “I’ve never been very sporty,” but the physical therapist begged to differ: “What you are doing on the podium—takes endurance and strength and movement awareness and timing. That is the essence of athleticism.” This ignited talk of the training parallels of musicians and athletes, the need for selfdiscipline, and having the patience to let the music “sit” or let the body adapt.

After a few months of rehabilitation and running again, Ioannides’ focused dedication enabled her to complete the Sound to Narrows 12K, placing 11th in her age group.

Ioannides’ goals began with wanting to stay fit on the podium, and stay energetic to manage being a wife, mother and conductor. She now believes in her athleticism and plans to stay strong for conducting, for running and for life!


For Additional Information on Running Therapy

Star Chefs On Broadway

The Pantages Theater was transformed into a 1920s speakeasy with rum runners and floozies hosting gambling games and enticing guests to try a variety of giggle waters so delicious they should have been prohibited. Dapper gents and dolled-up dames enjoyed a variety of delicious appetizers in the lobby before going into the 100-year-old theater. They were served a four-course dinner by Asado along with fine wines and dessert, and a delicious “last bite” by Corina Bakery. The entertainment continued throughout the evening with a dazzling program by EnJoy Productions.
Funds raised totaled in excess of $310,000, including the first round of seat-naming opportunities sold for the Pantages Theater renovation.