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ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
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 REVIEW

Cynthia Weichel (left) and members of the North Bay Sinfonietta

AMPLE EVIDENCE OF A BRIGHT FUTURE

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 14, 2014

An inaugural concert for a new area orchestra is a special deal, and the fledgling North Bay Sinfonietta’s March 14 concert in Santa Rosa’s First Presbyterian Church gave ample evidence of a bright future.

Organized and conducted by Cynthia Weichel, the Sinfonietta’s 30-plus members filled the cramped sanctuary stage and played four disparate works to a cheerful audience of 75. Boieldieu’s Overture to “La Dame Blanche” passed without much notice, the brass overly loud and Cynthia Shanklin’s flute playing a standout.

A Vivaldi Sinfonia in C Major (“L’incoronazione di Dario,” RV 719) came next. It was well played, but at times the ensemble was ragged. As with most amateur orchestras, the Sinfonietta's string intonation is frequently variable, entrances and cutoffs are inexact, high string sound is weak, and odd chirps can sporadically be heard that are not in the score. That said, the Vivaldi and especially the following Symphony No. 26 of Mozart, K. 184, had many lovely moments. Ms. Weichel’s direction has an easy-going stability, and the drama, sonic contrasts and pensive mood of Mozart's symphony were carefully drawn. The ensemble was most precise in the lighter sections and at lower volumes.

Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor (“Unfinished”), D. 759, comprised the entire second half. The soft and somber beginning was elegant. Though Ms. Weichel had the score at hand, she seldom looked at it, and under her baton the Sinfonietta caught the passion and dark momentum of the opening Allegro. The climaxes were built with force and spotlighted Marc Helfman’s clarinet solos. It was the group’s best playing of the evening.

A new orchestra in the North Bay may fill a performing gap, with community musicians performing in varied small venues; the Sinfonietta has scheduled its second concert May 2 in the same church. It joins a formidable list of North Bay ensembles: American Philharmonic Sonoma County, Symphony of the Redwoods, Ukiah Symphony, Philharmonia Healdsburg, Santa Rosa Symphony, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, Mill Valley Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra and with four yearly concerts in Weill Hall, the San Francisco Symphony.