Will Fisher photo Katie Gray and Kurt Baumann of the Sea Stars.

Sea Stars to present ‘Return of the Sun’ on winter solstice

With darkness comes the promise of light.

On the shortest day of the year, settle into your seat at Orcas Center and watch the mystery and magic of the winter solstice unfold before you.

“It will be very intimate, spiritual, tender and sacred,” said Katie Gray, who has co-created a special evening of music and dance called “Return of the Sun” on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage.

The night is centered around the music of the Sea Stars, which Gray founded in 2008 with her partner Kurt Baumann. Their music has appeared on “Gilmore Girls,” “Bones,” and “Criminal Minds” and they’ve released two self-produced albums. The duo is currently working on a third studio album. The Sea Stars “pull upon inspiration from nature, love, pain and the natural journey of life.”

Now settled on Orcas, Gray and Baumann were invited by Grace McCune to perform for her benefit concert “On This Island” last May. When dancer Kara O’Toole, who was also the center director at the time, watched their set, she immediately wanted to see more.

Gray, Baumann and O’Toole began planning for a winter concert that would bring together the Sea Stars’ signature ethereal sound with dancers, spoken word, costumes and light projection. They’ve been meeting weekly for the past six months to create “Return of the Sun,” which will also be streamed lived on www.concertwindow.com.

“We’ve been at the drawing board and mapping it all out, but when you start bringing in other talent and voices who shine their light, then the art piece takes on its own vibrations,” said Gray.

Added Baumann: “It’s been really beautiful to watch it unfold. The idea from the get-go was to do something deeper and different. It’s the journey into the darkest night of the year and transforming into the light and being reborn into the new year.”

Sea Stars will be joined by Bridget Law, a violinist from Elephant Revival, Joe Pusateri, a Los Angeles drummer and bass player Kevin Colomby. Local dancers are Solianna Halabisky, Christopher Meadows, Stephanie Iverson, Stephie McIlhenny and Jessica Tokarchuk along with choreographers Tiffany Loney and O’Toole. Costume design is by Asifa Welch-Pasin, Susie Shipman, Loney and Iverson. Live projection will be done by Seattle artist Everett Keithcart, lighting is by Robert Hall and Libi Geddes and sound engineering is by Jeffrey Horton and Colomby.

“It’s great to have a blank canvas to go deeper into the storytelling,” said Gray. “Orcas Center is unlike any other venue in the area. It brings together a wonderful and professional atmosphere of quality lighting, sound and seating. Because our music takes the listener on an intimate journey of storytelling and emotion, the space really accommodates a quiet and sacred setting that allows the listener to get comfortable and sink into the journey.”

Ticket information

Tickets are $27, $19 students and $6 off for Orcas Center members at www.orcascenter.org, 376-2281 ext. 1 or the Orcas Center Box Office open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 12-2 pm. There are $5 subsidized tickets available at the Box Office.