Valentine romance comes to the “Isle of Love”

— Created February 8, 2023 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Sometimes choosing that perfect Valentine for one’s sweetheart can be hard. Flowers and chocolates, while always a perfectly good option, might seem uninspired or deemed too caloric by the recipient. If only there was a unique, romantic and non-fattening treat to share on Valentine’s Day.

Whidbey Island Orchestra may have just what the love doctor ordered! The group is offering a Valentine’s Day concert Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at South Whidbey High School in Langley. This one-night-only performance of “Isle of Love” is sponsored by Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, which is providing technical and ticketing support to the orchestra. Tickets to “Isle of Love” may be purchased at the door or in advance at

This Valentine’s Day concert is the second for Whidbey Island Orchestra, following a successful, sold-out event last year. Organizers are hoping to ramp up the romance once again Tuesday evening for a Valentine-loving audience.

“This is, after all, a perfect date night on Whidbey Island, and not fattening either,” said Cynthia Morrow, WIO conductor and executive director. “We are presenting a chamber orchestra program with strings, piano, flutes and percussion. This worked well last year to create the lush, romantic sound we’re going for.”

Morrow said WIO’s chamber ensemble is not limiting to its sound and it has incorporated some interesting additions to the program.

“We’re playing some Beatles tunes, classic rock, Latin, and are featuring two brilliant young dancers and a vocalist who sings Scottish songs and plays harp, accompanied by a fiddle, cello, and piano,” she described. “The orchestra will also be performing two evocative songs by Sondheim, ‘No One Is Alone’ and ‘Send In The Clowns.’”

The concert, Morrow said, is about love in its infinite variations, which helped her to choose appropriate compositions to be featured in the program.

“Because Whidbey Island is in so many ways an ’Isle of Love,’ so warm, so inclusive, so diverse, I wanted to do William Hofeldt’s ‘She Will Hang the Night With Stars,’” she explained. “Written for string orchestra, the piece is based on a long letter written by Oscar Wilde while he was imprisoned in England in 1897 for the crime of homosexuality. It speaks of the price paid for love, and the forgiveness of Mother Nature – so beautiful!”

Morrow said WIO drummer/percussionist Steve Buff helps move the orchestra from style to style, as does pianist Joy Tjoelker, who first joined the group at Christmas. An extra special addition to the program are the Scottish vocals.

“Laurie Monahan is a professional singer of early and authentic world music who recently moved to Whidbey Island after a vibrant career that has taken her around the world,” Morrow added. “She will be treating us to lilting ballads and rousing songs that celebrate the many aspects of love in ancient Scotland. Isn’t it amazing who shows up here? We are so happy to introduce her to the audiences of Whidbey Island!”

Adding to the artistic celebration of the evening are performances from two young dancers, according to Morrow. 

“Whidbey Island Orchestra is a community nonprofit, and a large part of our mission is to bring the joy of music to our island,” she said. “We also want to highlight the many sources of the musical arts to be found here. One of these is dance. The ‘Isle of Love’ concert is featuring 16-year-old Tabitha Metts, who danced the role of Clara in this year’s Whidbey Island Dance Theatre’s ‘Nutcracker,’ and Dade Glaser, who played the prince. They will be performing a lyrical ballet to ‘Somewhere In Time’ and a Latin mambo in ‘Begin the Beguine.’  We’re excited to have this talented pair give physical expression to our music through their unique choreography.”

With members ranging in age from 9 to 86, Morrow said the program offers a broad range of music, which should enable the audience to find plenty to love about Whidbey Island Orchestra’s Valentine’s Day concert.

“’Isle Of Love’ is full of surprises for everyone,” she said, adding her response to the question of what makes music romantic. “For some of us, it’s music that evokes memories of when we were young and dating or in love. It can be the lyrics, or the melody, or a lush string sound that sets a mood. We’ve tried to program music from every decade, starting back in the 1940s, to give everyone a chance to remember what it was like when they first fell in love.”

Find more information about Whidbey Island Orchestra at Tickets to Tuesday’s “Isle of Love” concert may be purchased at the door or in advance at