Luminosity Orchestra conjures spirits of music at inaugural performance

Luminosity Orchestra’s Artistic Director Erik Ibsen-Nowak basks in the glow of having completed a job well done after the performance of “The Grand Guignol,” the inagural concert of the new orchestra. photo by Teresa Orris

The Luminosity Orchestra is the newest classical music outfit in town. The group made its inaugural appearance Oct. 21 at the Pythian Temple, with an evening of musical performance, augmented with visual components. The show, called “The Grand Guignol,” was a concert consisting of music from select film scores, as well as a couple of classical compositions. All of these were accompanied by either still shots, slides of art, or film clips that were projected onto an enormous screen behind the orchestra.

Everything had a macabre, Halloween theme to go with the season, which fit perfectly with the antique interior of the Pythian Temple’s Castle Room. The darkly varnished wood, old paintings, claw-footed furniture and carved ornamentation seemed resonant with spirits of Tacoma’s past, waiting to be conjured from the netherworlds by the magic of music.

The evening started with a rousing rendition of John Williams’ “Imperial March” from the “Star Wars” saga. The orchestra was bathed in red light as the brass section blasted away and the strings laid down a frenzied under layer. Scenes of Darth Vader and Imperial star ships flashed across the big screen.

There were a number of musical selections from the Tim Burton movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” This suite of music included lyrical performances by North Tacoma Music and Arts Academy student Alec Joseph, Jessica Lynne of the Ted Brown Live It OutLoud program, and Brian Kohler, who is music director of the Kent United Methodist Church. Joseph was dressed as Jack Skellington and Lynne was dressed as Sally. Both are characters from the movie.

Other film scores performed during the night included “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Psycho,” “Basic Instinct” and “The Omen.” All movie scores were accompanied by stills and film clips from their movies.

The night also saw a flawless performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ poème symphonique “Danse Macabre” (1874). This was accompanied by drawings, prints and paintings of skeletons with musical instruments. The “Dance of Death,” the medieval allegory of the universality of death, came out of Europe during the era when the bubonic plague swept through the land.

The performance of Hector Berlioz’s “La Symphonie Fantastique” (1830) was accompanied by old scenes of public executions: the guillotine, the gallows, the chopping block and the stake.

Luminosity Orchestra’s Artistic Director Erik Ibsen-Nowak guided the musicians through the evening like the captain of a ship on a sea of stormy music.

The orchestra’s concert master, violinist William Boyd, has also served at that post for the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

According to Luminosity’s Chairman Andrew T. Miller, the orchestra was formed under the aegis of the North Tacoma Music and Arts Academy. “The Luminosity orchestra was created to be a mentoring group, where professional musicians with a desire to inspire, would be paired with aspiring young musicians one on one. This pairing would give the youth a chance to play for pay and receive real world tutelage by the side of individuals earning their living in the music industry.” Ibsen-Nowak, the group’s dynamic artistic director, put the show together in conjunction with a board of directors.

Look for another sensual feast when Luminosity Orchestra performs a holiday show called “Traditions” on Dec. 9, also at the Pythian Temple. More concerts are scheduled for February, March, May and July of next year.

Luminosity is a group of polished, solid musicians that exhibit mastery of their instruments and of the music that they’re making. Look to them if you wish to experience flawless music full of expressive power as it transforms the Castle Room of the Pythian Temple into an enchanted grotto where the muses alight.

For further information on Luminosity Orchestra and the North Tacoma Music and Arts Academy, visit or

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