Melodies for summer

In a first-ever event, the chamber musicians of Melodious Notes Over the Harbor will play a summer solo performance in not one but two shows over Labor Day weekend.

“We have had a wonderful time putting the concert together,” said Sue Collado, Melodious Notes director.

The intimate setting of the Gubleman Theatre at the San Juan Community Theatre allows the audience to be up close to the performers, Collado noted. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1. Tickets are $21 for adults and $11 for students and are available online at, or at the theater’s box office by calling 360-378-3210. Collado said she recommends people buy their tickets sooner rather than later since this intimate venue only holds about 65 people.

In keeping with the summer season, the music, Collado said, will be primarily fun and light, ranging from older composers such as Chopin to more contemporary ones like Jenni Brandon.

Melodious Notes began approximately seven years ago when Collado, an accomplished clarinetist, held a concert at the San Juan Community Theatre with piano accompaniment. Through that original concert, Collado made new musical connections, eventually forming Melodious Notes as they are today.

The group consists of seven members, Sasha von Dassow, Elizabeth Schaltenbrand, Hanneke-Klein Robbenbaar, Kim Breilein, Pat Nelson, Kay Zavislak and Collado.

A majority of the players are from the island, such as flutist Breilein, who has her own music studio in Oak Harbor. Bassoonist Nelson and pianist Zavislak are both faculty members of Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The on-island players have varied careers as well, Collado explained. von Dassow is the owner of San Juan Island Transportation by day, cellist by night. Prior to moving to the islands, von Dassow played in the Florida Symphony. Schaltenbrand is an emergency room nurse when not playing the piano, while the accomplished violin and violist Robbenhaar works at LUXEL, a technology company on San Juan Island.

Collado herself was an orchestral musician before moving to Friday Harbor around 10 years ago. She actually wanted to learn the violin starting in the first grade, she said with a laugh. The tiny school district she attended, however, did not have violins. She was given a clarinet instead. Collado stuck with the instrument and even learned to play a variety of clarinet types.

Over the years the chamber group has developed a comradery, according to Collado, despite the sometimes complicated travel logistics with off-island members. The group enjoys working together, rehearsing to create music that is, what Collado called, “concert ready.”

Finding the perfect pieces required listening to a lot of music from a wide range of time periods and being attentive toward what songs the audience would enjoy.

“Obviously what you want is for the audience to say ‘Wait, we’re done? We want more!’” Collado said.

Music was also chosen, she explained, to showcase the individual players and their instruments. One example is “Prelude” by Rebecca Clarke, a piece originally written for a clarinet and a viola, and a perfect duet for Robbenhaar and Collado. Born in the late 1800s, Clarke was a British composer who was able to eke out a living as a composer and violist.

The group will also be playing songs from the musicals “Westside Story” and “Golden Apple.”

The “Westside Story” selection includes “America,” “Maria” and “One Hand, One Heart” by Leonard Bernstein, and will feature von Dassow on cello and Schaltenbrand and piano.

“The Departure for Rhododendron,” by Jerome Moross, from “The Golden Apple,” will have nearly all the Melodious Notes players on stage during this rendition arranged by Jim Collado, Sue Collado’s husband.

During the contemporary Brandon’s performance of “The Sequoia Trio,” a slideshow will play in the background to accompany the songs and, according to Collado, honoring Brandon’s love of nature.

Ensuring some laughter in the house, Schalenbrand and Zavislak will be playing Randall Compton’s “C.S. Theme and Variations, Op. 6.,” or “Chopsticks.” This piece, Collado explained, was written in the style of Victor Borge, a pianist known for playing the piano in a humorous fashion. Variations are called a piano four hands, meaning it is played on one piano, by two people. Sometimes one player will play the notes of the other pianist, setting the comedic stage.

“It will be a delightful concert,” Collado said.