by Claude Kordus
Claude Kordus, a local rotarian and keen supporter of the local musical
community recently experienced an adventure with Mainly Mozart, the
classical music organization that sponsors performances in San Diego.
This hidden gem is an organization which produces world class concerts
conducted by nationally and internationally acclaimed talent. These performers
typically play music by great composers for small groups – chamber music.
Some of theses concerts have performed in Rancho Santa Fe homes and have
bewitched onlookers with their unsurpassed musical talents. Recently, Claude
and local Mainly Mozart supporters ventured far north to expand their musical
The United States has been gifted by the existence of National Parks, from the
coast of Maine to the snowcapped mountains of the eastern Sierras and from
the forests of Michigan to the shores of Oregon – and many more. To add
to this treasure trove, a large number of State Parks dot the country including
those of the San Juan Islands, which occupy the channel between Anacortes,
Washington, and Victoria B.C., Canada. San Juan Islands number in the hundreds,
but only four are inhabited including Orcas Island, this article’s focus.
Orcas Island WA is the largest island in the San Juans with the following
ORCAS BY THE NUMBERS
- 5252 – Acreage of land in Moran State Park
- 4894 – Residents of Orcas Island
- 2409 – Elevation of Mt. Constitution in feet, the highest point on the island
- 247 – Average annual days with sunshine
- 77 – Shoreline of Orcas Island in miles
- 57 – Orcas Island total square miles (largest of the San Juans)
- 40 – Maximum speed limit on the island (less in many areas)
- 27 – Driving miles from farthest points on island
- 4 – Number of ferry-served islands in the San Juans
- 3 – Gas stations on Orcas Island
- 1 – Orcas Island’s place in your heart after visiting
- 0 – Number of stop lights on Orcas Island
What were a number of loyal San Diego concert goers doing on Orcas Island?
The reason for these folks being on the island is centered on the Orcas
Island Music Chamber Festival, now in its 20th season. There were over 40
highly respected musicians from around the country playing a wide variety of
instruments; piano, violin, viola, cello, bass, clarinet, percussion, oboe, saxophone,
and yes, the saw, in a variety of groupings featuring world renowned composers
– Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Shubert, Shuman, Bartok, Boss, Debussy, Vivaldi,
The group from San Diego attended concerts at various locations over six days,
but as grand as the music was, they also enjoyed a variety of activities including
touring the island, which is called the Emerald Island, a stunning 57 square miles
of curving rural roads.
Besides touring, they also experienced whale watching and sailing on a thirty
foot charter boat out of Deer Harbor on the southwest corner of the island.
When Orca whales were sighted, cameras emerged, but what created the
most excitement was the sighting of a mother Humpback whale with its calf
by her side.
If one is not touring, whale watching, listening to great music or shopping at
the numerous gift and arts shops, one should go to the beach. One can enjoy
marine birds soaring overhead – egrets, gulls and bald eagles, over 3,000 species
of invertebrates in the waters around Orcas Island and you might even see deer
along the shore.
At low tide numerous invertebrates abound including sea stars, limpets, crabs,
barnacles – and these are the ones you can see. Large clams bury themselves
3-5 feet into the sand where they do their duty for the environment. These
large clams filter large amounts of sea water every day. One might ask, “How
do you get to Orcas Island?” This can be achieved in a variety of exciting ways
such as car and ferry, land planes and float planes or by boat.
Marin State Park, which contains the highest point on the island is considered by
many the crown jewel of all parks in Washington. One can hike, swim in several
lakes, bike on trails, rent a paddle boat, check out the waterfalls or fish for trout
and bass. One can also drive to the highest point, Mt. Constitution, and enjoy
the glorious views of all the islands.
So, what about the San Diego Mainly Mozart music loving group? They all got