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SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Ukiah Symphony / Sunday, December 5, 2010
Mendocino College Masterworks Chorale
Ukiah Symphony Orchestra
Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor

Ukiah Symphony Horn Players (l to r) Bruce Blakie, Paul Hadley, Bob Satterford and Ben Robinson

VOCAL, HARP AND HORN GLORIES IN UKIAH SYMPHONY'S CHRISTMAS CONCERT

by Elizabeth MacDougall
Sunday, December 5, 2010

A near capacity audience enjoyed the Ukiah Symphony’s Dec. 4 “Horns on Holiday” concert in Mendocino College’s Center Theater.

Music Director Les Pfutzenreuter, in his 19th year leading the Symphony, began the program with Schumann’s Concertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra. The brassy and elegant soloists were Ben Robinson, Bob Satterford, Paul Hadley, Bruce Blaikie.

The first movement (Lebhaft) had a rich Schumann sonic texture, the violins sounding full behind concertmaster Margie Rice. Each solo horn entrance had stylistic phrasing, the tricky fast passagework clear and distinct. The audience enthusiastically applauded the ending of the first movement of this and several of the other forte-ending movements in the concert. In the second movement (Romance) the horn playing was beautifully blended, and only by watching closely could one discern which of the four was actually playing the notes. The orchestra once missed a conducting beat that created a rough start to a new phrase, but in the third movement’s rising repeated passagework all was seamless brass playing, even with the brisk tempos Mr. Pfutzenreuter choose.

Next was Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite No. 1, Op. 71a, featuring harpist Jessica Schaeffer. Ms. Schaeffer, a Boston resident but known to Ukiah audiences, held the hall captive with her prismatic technique and flowing arm motions. One could just see the dancers cross the stage, matching the score’s frequent tempo changes. The flute section of Rebecca Pollack Ayres, Cathy Hall and Tracie Triolo (also on piccolo) played fetchingly in the Reed-Flutes Danses characteristiques. Woodwind player Paul McCandless, a touring soloist, made a rare appearance in the orchestra, playing the second oboe part.

After intermission Englishman John Rutter's (b. 1945) Magnificat for chorus, orchestra and soprano was performed. Soloist Abigail Rowland, a native of Ft. Bragg, sang with fresh energy and thrilling high notes. Ms. Rowland’s singing, sumptuously lyrical in the quiet sections, was juxtaposed with the power of the 45-member Masterworks Chorale. Composed in 1990 with Bach’s piece of the same name as a model, Mr. Rutter’s work gave musical beauty to the Magnificat texts of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer used in the Church of England. The interplay between the brassy fanfares and the sweet vocals of the composer's tonal style, using traditional Gregorian plainsong melodies, was warmly received by the audience.

It was a harmonious ending to an accomplished and felicitous pre-Christmas concert.