The Importance of Program Notes

If you’re new to opera, or ballet, or jazz, or theater, or dance, here’s a helpful hint: read the program notes and attend a pre-talk with someone associated with the production. You’ll learn so much about the background of the work, about the creator, and even how it relates to today’s artistic endeavors. I attended Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s “Jewels” in September, and I learned so much from education program manager Doug Fullington’s pre-show talk. In October, Ryan Dudenbostel gave insights on Whatcom Symphony Orchestra’s opening concert. And just last night, at McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon, Bellingham’s Mitch Kahn shared his first experience hearing “Tales of Hoffman.” (There’s a show at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 29, and also on Nov. 5, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Tickets at 360-416-7727,, or go to for details). Here are more events to add to your calendar:  Journey to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s “”The Nutcracker” at McCaw Hall in Seattle on Saturday, Dec. 9, in a road trip hosted by Whatcom Community College. The group will depart WCC at 10 a.m., arriving in time for lunch and a stroll around the magically decorated Seattle Center. The performance begins at 2 p.m. Cost is $125. Registration deadline is Nov. 27 at noon. Ages 10 and older are welcome to register with an adult. To register, call 360-383-3200 or go to But before “The Nutcracker,” PNB is staging “Her Story” Nov. 3-12. The program features works by Twyla Tharp, Jessica Lang, and Crystal Pite. Get tickets at On Nov. 19, WSO performs its “Harmony in Discord” concert at Mount Baker Theatre, with a concerto inspired by Holocaust survivor Curt Lowens. Composer Sharon Faber will be at the concert. Details at and I encourage you to not only attend and support these fine organizations, but to take time to learn from the people who know these productions well. You’ll enjoy the shows even more!