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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
CHAMBER REVIEW
The Goat Rodeo Sessions / Friday, August 23, 2013
Yo Yo Ma,cello; Stuart Duncan, fiddle; Edgar Meyer, bass; Chris Thile, mandolin; Aoife O'Donovan, vocals

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

MUSICAL GOATS INVADE WEILL HALL PASTURE

by J. C. Benjamin
Friday, August 23, 2013

In the penultimate Weill Hall summer season concert on Aug. 23, the insouciant Goat Rodeo Sessions band brought an audience of 3,700 an eclectic mix of bluegrass, classical and fusion music unique in the Hall’s short history. The rapt listeners were clearly out for an evening of distinctive entertainment.

An enthusiastic reception greeted the band’s entrance, and a thunderous standing ovation, including yells from 2,000 in the terrace seats, ended the two-hour show. Ostensibly the stellar cellist Yo Yo Ma was the group’s leader, but the band’s lack of formality and often prankish stage behavior underscored their unconventional approach to the selected music. Announced from the stage, the song titles were varied and pungent: Quarter Chicken Dark, Less is Moi, Parallax, Where’s My Bow?, Farewell Angelina, Franz and the Eagle, 13:8, Hill Justice, Helping Hand, Attaboy and a relaxed encore, All Through The Night.

Soprano Aoife O'Donovan joined Mr. Ma, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, bassist Edgar Meyer and the always-in-motion mandolin and guitar virtuoso Chris Thile for four songs, and Mr. Meyer did double duty at the piano. Mr. Duncan and Mr. Thile sporadically added an extra violin or banjo to the mix.

Mr. Ma told the audience that mutual trust was needed to play this kind of music, as was soon evident when artistic egos were supplanted by frequent smiles, nods to each other and spiritual interaction. The Goats clearly loved making music that was often driving, fast, playful and full of energy. Long explanations about the titles of pieces were offered, with a Goat “hand salute” and a shout out to the people on the terrace: “How are you doing?”

In the fourth piece, “Where’s My Bow?”, the character was a mixture of classical and hoedown, almost a work that minimalist composer John Adams might have crafted. Capriciously, the band touched bows at the conclusion in a resounding “high five.” Ms. O’Donovan and Mr. Thile had a beguiling duet in “Farewell Angelina,” a Bob Dylan song made famous by Joan Baez. “Hill Justice” echoed the banjo style of the legendary picker Ralph Stanley. Two movements of a Bach sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord--here transposed for cello, bass and mandolin--were played persuasively, with subtle charm. Mr. Ma used a score in this work.

Announced as the group’s favorite, “Attaboy” received a provocative performance where the violin becomes a country fiddle, the cello sounds like a fiddle, and the mandolin weaves an evocative vocal line in a diminuendo, only to fire up the group to a propulsive conclusion.

At the end, Mr. Ma paid homage to Joan and Sanford Weill for their seminal support of local music, and the evening’s magical effects carried over to gay post-concert festivities.

Donald Edward and Pamela Morris contributed to this review.