The Kirkland-based Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra (LWSO) plans to resurrect an Eastside tradition featuring private gardens throughout the Eastside, including two in Kirkland.
The LWSO seeks to fill the musical gap left on this side of Lake Washington after the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) folded in 2011.
Though it is a new orchestra, the members are hardly new to the scene. Around 85 percent of them, such as violinist Sue Perry, formerly played for the BPO. Perry said the inaugural concert sent a strong message that although the BPO had disappeared, the demand on the Eastside for music had not.
“It was very well attended,” she said. “It was a function that everyone involved had to work very hard to make sure it was successful.”
Now, the LWSO is looking to raise money for concerts next year and they are resuming a fundraising event allowing listeners to take a self-tour through numerous private gardens in Clyde Hill, Medina, Hunts Point and Kirkland. It will be held on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. The tour fundraiser was held by the BPO for around eleven years.
The funds from the tour will enable the LWSO to host another concert.
“That’s one of our biggest hopes, to keep raising funds to put on our concerts,” Perry said. “Our second hope is to generate some excitement around the orchestra. We want people to have experiences together that are because of the orchestra. We’d like to be a vital part of the community.”
Beth McCaslin, the former president of the Bellevue Philharmonic League, is co-chairing the tours with her husband. She says they got involved after the symphony began to start back up again and were asked whether they could organize the garden tour. When McCaslin contacted the garden owners to see if they were interested, she said the response was extremely positive.
The gardens in Kirkland are located near the waterfront and on a former homestead property in the Highlands. The Highlands garden is owned by Richard and Lisa Atlig and has been used for previous tours. It features a rose garden, a pond, as well as a massive Sequoia.
Perry said she hopes that the tours will not only help fund future concerts but raise awareness about the symphony itself.
“I think the (Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra) really left a hole when it closed,” she said.
McCaslin said they also intend to create a broader audience for the orchestra that reaches more communities, including Kirkland.
“The orchestra really wants to be thought of as an Eastside orchestra, not a Bellevue orchestra,” she said. “We really support music on the Eastside. I love living in Kirkland and Kirkland people support Kirkland things.”