Audience members at Port Townsend Community Orchestra’s first concert of the season may recognize a familiar face among the other talented musicians. Renowned violinist and violist Matthew Daline, a 1990 graduate of Port Townsend High School, will lend his talents to the orchestra of which he was a founding member.
“I really wanted to play the electric guitar,” Daline said about his early musical interest. The high price tag deterred his parents from getting him what he wanted, so he turned to a school-owned violin.
Daline got his start in the elementary school orchestra with then-teacher Fred Johnson. He recalls singing and other instruments he tried, but when he picked up the violin and got notes from the bow, he made his decision to commit to it, which would pave his path into the music world.
“It was something ambitious,” he said about his early start. Johnson set the bar high for Daline and his peers, having them perform Beethoven symphonies rather than simpler selections. “It was challenging work from the beginning.”
It was the beginning of a recipe for success, as Daline took part in chair music groups early on and received private lessons. In high school, he took part in the first violin section of the Port Angeles Symphony. At 14, he took the top prize at the Stars of Tomorrow contest, which gave him a scholarship to attend the Philadelphia String Quartet Olympic Music Festival. These experiences inspired him to perform in the Seattle Youth Symphony in its first violin section, starting private lessons with one of its members.
His collegiate studies began on violin with Michele Auclair at the Paris Conservatory and continued at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, under Marcus Thompson and Martha Strongin Katz. When he began to play viola, Daline sought a teacher that took him to Julliard as a teaching assistant for Karen Tuttle, and Yale, where he achieved a master’s degree with Jesse Levine.
While working on his doctorate of musical arts at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and Daline served as a teaching assistant for the Department of Music. His first teaching job was at Louisiana State University, where he received the “Teaching Excellence Award” from the LSU Alumni Foundation. Currently, he is teaching music at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Daline has traveled extensively throughout his music career for festivals and master classes, and also has recruited students for his employer. His travels have taken him to the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada, the Spoleto Festival in Italy, the Verbier Academy in Switzerland, and the Brazilian Virtuosi in Recife, Brazil.
His return for the first concert of the Port Townsend Symphony's season has not been his first.
“Every time I come back, it's wonderful to see the same people play in the Port Townsend Orchestra,” Daline said, noting how it has grown since his initial performance. He was the group’s concertmaster when it formed in the late 1980s, when it was an extension of the Port Townsend High School Orchestra.
Though he has taught it several times, the piece he will perform with the orchestra, “Bloch: Suite Hebraique,” will be his first public performance of that work. Daline said it is “always great to perform a major repertoire with an orchestra you know and love.”
The concert’s theme is “Eastern Melodies,” and other pieces that will be performed include “Dvorak: Slavonic Dance No 2, Op. 72,” “Khachaturian: Three Dances from Gayane” and “Brahms: Hungarian Dances 1, 3 and 10.”
Daline said the artistic knowledge of the orchestra’s new director, Tigran Arakelyan, is taking the group to new levels. “He's a real force of nature,” he said. “I got to know him when he got the job and offered to come in to play a solo.”
“It is an absolute pleasure to work with Matthew,” said Arakelyan. “He is a world-class musician, and it is great to see him join us for the first concert of the season.”
Arakelyan recalled Daline's history with the orchestra along with Dalin’s study with Pat Yearian when it was first formed.
“As a music director, I like to invite musicians who have a history with this orchestra and community. It is always great to see someone who grew up here, went on to have a great career and is now back to play for the community. The rehearsal process has been very collaborative, and Matthew was exceptional in his approach to the group and the educational component he brought to the orchestra.”
The cpncert is free to the public, starting with the 2 p.m. Oct. 28 event at the Chimacum School Auditorium.