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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...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
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.