Bremerton Westsound Symphony turns 80

Founded in 1942, the Bremerton Westsound Symphony has brought about a plethora of musical compositions and displayed decades of talented instrumentalists and vocalists from around the world.

Such a “rare” long-lasting legacy continues and is set to be celebrated March 5 in an 80th-anniversary concert at Bremerton’s historic Admiral Theater, the venue with which it shares its anniversary year.

It’s another grand chance to celebrate music for the orchestra and its 67-year-old director Alan Futterman, whose enthusiasm for the arts, in contrast to his age, has remained as young and fresh as when he attended the famous Juilliard School of Music. “For me, the most important thing is the music,” he said. “Every month, I get to study different music, learn new pieces I’ve never done before. There’s always something new.”

Futterman grew up in Seattle, earned a master’s at Juilliard and received further doctoral education. He embarked back to the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s, where he built his resume as an instrumentalist and conductor, including a stint with the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra.

He has since settled in Bremerton after becoming the orchestra’s conductor in 2009, a move that put him in a community that shared his love for the arts not by obligation, but by passion and a willingness to learn.

“Officially it’s a volunteer orchestra, but many of our musicians went to music school, played at a professional level,” he said, “and they’re here because they want to be here. That makes a very congenial situation, which is why I’m still here.”

The enthusiasm for the anniversary concert has spread to the instrumentalists in the orchestra. Oboist Kristin Guy has played in Bremerton for 12 years and holds a master’s in music performance. She said it’s rare to see an orchestra’s lifespan extend so far but was glad to see so many others getting joy out of the music they are playing.

“I think it’s a really special thing that this community has an orchestra that has such a legacy—that it’s lasted for such a long time, it’s been supported by the community and volunteers in the community for such a long time,” she said.

Flutist Deliana Broussard, who came to America from Bulgaria, recalled how before she joined during the orchestra’s 70th season she did not anticipate playing anytime soon due to America’s lack of compensation for musicians. Now, she refers to her fellow orchestra members as family and is thankful for the position opening that she said helped her enjoy the arts again.

“I made some good friendships with people that are really well-versed in what they do and are very talented,” she said. “To me, this is important because if we’re not getting compensated materially, it’s nice to enjoy what you are doing.”

As for what to expect from the anniversary concert, Futterman said the program will include pieces familiar both to the “classical buff” and rare concert-goers. The highlight could be when the orchestra plays the “Barber of Seville Overture,” the first piece ever played by the orchestra 80 years ago in 1942.

The orchestra will perform at 3 p.m. The concert also will feature Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, featuring guitarist Mark Hilliard Wilson, and selections from Bizet’s opera “Carmen,” with the Bremerton Symphony Chorale, directed by LeeAnne Campos, bolstering the orchestra for the latter.

“There’s actually not enough room on the (Admiral) stage for a full orchestra and the Chorale,” Futterman said, “but we’ll have the Chorale just off to one side. We’ve done it before, and it’s sounded really good.”

-Doors open at 1:30 p.m. at 515 Pacific Ave. Tickets are $30 to $50. Information: 360-373-6743,,