Young Kitsap musicians perform with Seattle Symphony

How do you tell an ancient story — would you use words, or can you capture the meaning with just sound?

Music and musicians from Kitsap County lit up Benaroya Hall in Seattle at the Side by Side Concert April 19, a partnership between the Seattle Symphony and local music program Kids in Concert.

Performers as young as 12 took the stage alongside members of the Seattle Symphony, led by violinist Steve Bryant of Bainbridge Island, an avid supporter of string quartets. The mixed orchestra performed a uniquely Kitsap piece: “Creation” by KIC alum Max Dawes, a burgeoning composer and member of the Suquamish Tribe. Dawes’ composition recounts the story of the Suquamish Tribe’s origins — the first rendition of the tribe’s creation through classical music.

The young musicians at KIC have performed “Creation” twice, but this was the first time Dawes had heard it in a venue as large as Benaroya Hall.

“It felt massive, in regard to the sonic space, as well as the achievement — but at the same time, it felt as if we were performing it as we would anywhere else,” Dawes said. “That has to do with the joy of the music and of our community.”

Kids in Concert is a Poulsbo-based music education program for students interested in learning orchestral string and percussion instruments or trying choir. The program currently resides at West Sound Academy off Highway 305, but program leadership is looking for a permanent home elsewhere, ideally in the Suquamish community. “Equity” is the driving idea behind the program — so there is no tuition and no audition.

The Seattle Symphony has had an eye on KIC since 2012, said Jérémy Jolley, senior director of education and community engagement at the symphony. The Symphony tapped KIC in 2022 for its three-year youth outreach program, an effort to bring orchestra music to diverse populations in historically underserved parts of Puget Sound.

It’s not just about uplifting classical music, Jolley said. For many symphony musicians, it’s about passing the torch.

“Many, if not all, of the Seattle Symphony musicians have benefited from similar interactions when they were young, and they look forward to providing similarly formative experiences to the next generation,” Jolley said.