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Recital
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
Recital
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
Recital
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
Chamber
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Symphony
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunrise Concert. Sonoma State University Chorus and Chamber Singers; Santa Rosa Children's Chorus; Cantiamo Sonoma; Maria Carillo High School Chamber Singers; Sunrise Chamber Players; Jeff Langley, piano

Composer Jeff Langley

A POPULAR INAUGURATION; THE DELIGHTFUL SUNRISE CONCERT AT WEILL HALL

by Phillip Beard
Sunday, September 30, 2012

It’s hard to imagine a more fitting setting than the Sept. 30 Sunrise Concert for the popular – as opposed to “elite” – inauguration of the palatial, pre-legendary Weill Hall in the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. You know something special is going on when you fill a 1,400-seat hall at 7 a.m., most of those 1,400 still rubbing the sleep from their eyes.

The elite inauguration, the one with all the tux-and-gown pooh-bahs and the solitary rock star, had of course taken place the previous evening, hugely impressive with its pomp and circumstance and speeches and its stunning recital by the world’s current leading pianist Lang Lang . This Sunrise Concert, by contrast, was entirely home-grown and consciously community-oriented: a choral program created by SSU’s own composer Jeff Langley and poet/drama coach Amanda McTigue, performed by a phalanx of local choruses and soloists and a 14-piece instrumental ensemble, the Sunrise Players, drawn primarily from the Santa Rosa Symphony. The conductor was SSU choral director Jenny Bent.

Host Lynne Morrow, another SSU music faculty fixture, welcomed the crowd invitingly and inclusively, delivering her own paean to the beautiful shared space, “an instrument that tunes us,” and rehearsing the audience for its sing-along role in the ode to music that would end the concert.

Then we were launched gently, first silently (what a magic moment of shared introspection!) then with brassy fanfare into a marvelous eight-song mélange of full-choir, small-choir, solo-voice, dual-voice, and instrumental numbers sometimes merging one into the other, sometimes ending on glorious full chords. They ran the musical gamut from mild harmonic edginess (in “Fanfare: Make Music”) to hymn-like strophic loveliness (“The Loving Cup”), to pop-tune sing-along good vibes (“Every Little Minute”). The texts, each a masterly poem in its own right, roamed from the sundry roles that music plays in our lives to the love that binds us together, whether intimately (“Love Is Our Lot”) or communally (“The Loving Cup” and “Every Little Minute”).

This triple focus, the interweaving of three thematic elements – love, music, community – provided the backdrop for myriad glistening moments. My favorites included soprano Carol Menke’s several stellar solos; the velvet trio offered by Jeff Langley at the piano, soprano Jenni Samuelson, and the amazing countertenor Chris Fritzsche, serendipitously blessed by the dawn sun rising over the hills to the east at the very moment of the vocal line “It’s the angle of the light, It’s the fading of the hills”.

In the Sunrise Players both Kathleen Reynolds’ flute and Roy Zajac’s clarinet playing stood out with warm resonance, along with the descant purity of the Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus. The larger ensemble, made up of the Maria Carrillo High School Chamber Singers, the SSU Symphonic Chorus, Cantiamo Sonoma, and the aforementioned Children’s Chorus, sang with thundering richness.

A star performer throughout the concert was the hall itself and its acoustic spectrum, ranging from pianissimo delicacy and crispness to full-on Mahlerian boom.

A marvelous new facility has opened at SSU, acoustically arguably among the greatest in the country. It was memorably showcased in this Sunrise Concert, and the program was written by local artists and performed by a well-rehearsed and well-conducted ensemble of local instrumental and vocal talent. The transparent intent of the concert's producers and performers was to contribute to the establishment of a community sense of ownership of the shared architectural and cultural space. They succeeded beautifully.