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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
Occidental Center for the Arts / Sunday, January 13, 2013
Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Xenelis, conductor. Norma Brown, piano; Jeff Chan, clarinet; Valerie Marshall, cello; Daniel Celidore, oboe; Paul Hadley, horn; Miranda Kincaid, bassoon; Christopher Fritzsche, countertenor

Nick Xenelis, Dan Celidore, Miranda Kinkaid, Paul Hadley and Jeffrey Chan

JAN. 13 OCCIDENTAL AND GUERNEVILLE PROGRAMS OPEN RIVER CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 13, 2013

Russian River’s winter concert season began Jan. 13 with two events at nearly the same location and time, both programs packed with abundant vocal qualities.

Sonia Tubridy’s River Choir performed their annual Winterfest concert in the Guerneville Community Church before 30 ardent listeners. The 12-member choir, diminished from their usual number because of illness, began with a series of short works of Susato, Mozart, Andrejs Jansons, Schubert and Bach.

Director Tubridy did extra duty at the piano and even used a small rhythmic drum in Pietro Yon’s "Gesu Bambino." First-half soloists included Kathrin Williams, Lois Pearlman, Jean Ashley and Tom Lowrie.

The balance of the concert was not heard due to a short drive to Occidental for the Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra’s concert in the town’s cozy Performing Arts Center. A warm beginning was offered in the opening Clarinet Trio of Brahms, Op. 114, with pianist Norma Brown, clarinetist Jeffrey Chan and cellist Valerie Marshall. In each of the four movements, the players highlighted the innate lyricism of the work from Brahms’ last period.

Norma Brown is an old friend to this trio. She played with a subdued approach, probably because of the vacuous sound of the instrument she was given, and the composer’s generally autumnal writing. I suspect it’s also the way she perceives the piece, and her colleagues followed suit. Mr. Chan spun lovely phrases in the beginning Allegro and subsequent Adagio, and Ms. Marshall, overcoming some intonation and upper register difficulties, played with a flowing and full bottom register. At times the clarinet covered the other instruments, but after all it’s a clarinet work. The unison playing in the closing Allegro was bracing, and the ensemble tidy.

Counterenor Christopher Fritzsche joined consummate oboist Daniel Celidore in selections from Vaughn Williams’ "Ten Blake Songs for High Voice," written a year before the composer’s death in 1958. Beginning with "The Lamb," the interplay between the somber oboe line and the airy, occasionally melismatic singing was captivating. Often the two parts were far apart harmonically, the oboe playing seemingly giving no direct assistance to the singer. There are echoes here of the opera "Riders to the Sea." The monochromatic nature of the high vocal part, in Mr. Fritzsche’s deliberately sparse phrasing, had a bit of menace. "A Poison Tree," "Ah! Sunflower," "Eternity" and "The Piper" were the final songs, the last the most jaunty.

Conductor Nicholas Xenelis’ 19-member Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra somehow found room on the small stage and concluded the concert with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Orchestra, K. 297b. Throughout the three-movement work, Mr. Xenelis favored leisurely tempos. The opening Allegro, with its numerous repeated expositions, tended to the deliberate. The conductor focused his attention on control of dynamics to exemplary effect, eliciting excellent ensemble in a sporadically scrappy orchestra sound, and his deference to the four soloists was deft. Mozart’s masterful writing for winds was everywhere in evidence, and the conductor was in total command, rarely looking at the score before him.

In addition to Mr. Celidore, the soloists included Mr. Chan, bassoonist Miranda Kinkaid and hornist Paul Hadley. The pungent clarinet and oboe parts in this hall tended to overpower the upper strings (though not Bill Fouty’s sonorous bass playing), and the E Flat tonality in the entire piece brought continuity and delectable long phrases to the thematic material. Under Mr. Xenelis’ paced direction the music was iterative, but it never meandered.

In the 10-variation finale, the virtuosity of the solo quartet shone, especially the discourse of clarinet and oboe, resulting in a standing ovation from the 125 in attendance. Proceeds from the concert benefited the Performing Arts Center.