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Forte: Flying high with the monarchs

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yso column

(Photo by David Lynx)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The monarch butterfly is inspiring a wealth of cultural activity through the coming month, by way of a series of community events around music, visual art and science.

The “Voyage of the Monarch” took flight Jan. 4 at Essencia Artisan Bakery with an eclectic, 35-piece monarch butterfly-themed exhibit featuring the work of 26 local artists. On view through March, this is the first event in a community collaboration around the Yakima Symphony Orchestra’s “South of the Border” concert on Feb. 3.

Monarch butterflies will next touch down for a visit on Saturday at the Yakima Central Library (downtown) for a free children’s art-making event, with a monarch butterfly theme, led by local artist Christie Tirado.

Their voyage continues with a pair of free butterfly lectures representing northern and southern points of arrival and departure for the annual monarch butterfly migration.

On Jan. 30, David James, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University, will present “Biology & Conservation of Monarch Butterflies in the Pacific Northwest.” He will share the results of five years of citizen scientist-aided tagging of monarchs and discuss the importance of creating monarch butterfly habitat in Washington gardens, parks and natural areas to help reverse population decline.

On Jan. 31, Javier Ponce Saavedra of the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, will present a lecture about the winter home to millions of monarch butterflies that migrate annually from the United States and Canada to forests in Mexico.

A mystery for decades, the exact sites where the monarch butterflies overwinter were discovered only in the mid-1970s.

There will be an artists reception on Feb. 2 at Essencia for the butterfly-themed exhibit there.

On Feb. 3, as the collaboration’s originating inspiration and culminating event, the YSO will present “South of the Border,” an energetic and colorful program with music from across Latin America, featuring guest violinist David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by the great tango composer Astor Piazzolla.

This column was written by the staff of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Learn more at

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