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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.