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Monarchal music on tap from symphony

Monarch butterfly

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The monarch butterfly will return to Yakima a little earlier than usual next year. With its beautiful, distinctive orange and black markings, the monarch is the image the Yakima Symphony Orchestra has chosen to represent the third classical concert in its 2017-18 “Musical Voyage Around the World.”

“South of the Border” on Feb. 3 will include the music of Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina; the monarch butterfly is the ultimate voyager of the Americas, migrating south for the winter and north for the summer.

At a time of year when it’s cold and perhaps even snowy in Yakima, the music and its imagery will be a welcome presence and reminder of the color and beauty soon to return to the Pacific Northwest on those golden wings.

The monarch butterfly already has an elevated presence in the Yakima community through the work of local specialists, supported by citizen scientists and Cowiche Canyon Conservancy volunteers who rear and tag monarchs before releasing them at the end of the summer for their voyage south.

The monarch butterfly also is beloved by community members, with connections to Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. Millions of monarchs make their winter home in butterfly sanctuaries near Morelia, where butterfly aficionados can themselves make the voyage south to see them, with peak viewing from mid-December through the end of February.

With the monarch butterfly already a community treasure and passion, and with “South of the Border” on the horizon, a collaboration of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and Yakima-Morelia Sister City Association and friends was bound to develop.

Celebrating this annual odyssey, “The Voyage of the Monarch — A Travelogue” will begin in January with a monarch-inspired art exhibit at Essencia Artisan Bakery, followed by a children’s art-making event led by artist Christie Tirado and public lectures on butterflies, all culminating with the YSO’s concert in early February.

As such, the monarch butterfly adds music-making to its gifts of beauty and flight, making it the ultimate cultural ambassador as well as the ultimate voyager.

Join us on the voyage! A call-to-artists prospectus is available at ysomusic.org and cowichecanyon.org. The deadline for submitting artwork images is Nov. 30. We’ll post other voyage activity updates as we travel.

• Learn more about the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at ysomusic.org.

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