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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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 REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, November 14, 2015
Norman Gamboa, conductor

So Co Philharmonic Conductor Norman Gamboa

LA ROCCA'S "CROSSING" A MINIMALIST DEBUT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 14, 2015

Conductor Norman Gamboa is known for innovative programming, especially with Latin-theme music, but in the Nov. 14 concert at Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Hall he chose three familiar works by American composers But true to form a new piece from local composer Frank LaRocca was also in the mix.

Barber’s The School for Scandal: Overture, the composer’s first popular work, received slow tempos but had additional clarity of instrumental voices that Mr. Gamboa coaxed from the Orchestra in under 10 minutes. Scruffy string playing was offset by wonderful wind voices from Nick Xenelis (clarinet), Chris Krive’s oboe and flutist Debra Scheuerman. Barber’s 1933 neo Romanticism was well served in the performance.

Four Dance Episodes from Copland’s music for the ballet Rodeo followed, each unique in texture and excitement. In his 115th birthday role Copland’s pre-1950 works now sound more readily Americana than Gershwin or Bernstein, and the bookends “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe-Down” were played with flair and just the right amount of western “swing.” The conductor controlled the fast rhythmic sections with anchored tempos, and in the “Hoe-Down” the prominent piano part (Brien Wilson) alternated with lovely deep phrases in the cellos.

There was fetching harp playing in the bucolic “Corral Nocturne” and beguiling solos from English hornist Anthony Perry.

Following intermission and the always popular wine raffle Mr. La Rocca’s 1994 orchestral suite Crossing the Rubicon was expertly played, and in a surprising blend of minimalist forms. I don’t recall a large minimalist work being played in Sonoma County, save for long ago performances of Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and possibly Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

First came from a lonely piccolo theme (Emily Reynolds) over short crescendos, repeated unendingly, and more intricate oboe, harp and piano solos. The long and often lyrical melodic lines and pensive character of Crossing were carefully shaped by Mr. Gamboa, spiced by marimba and robust percussion playing. Mr. LaRocca’s Crossing is an effective composition, tightly crafted but unabashedly poetic. Audience members wanting music of minimalist dissonance needed to look elsewhere.

The composer was in the audience and was recognized by the conductor and a now standing Orchestra.

This reviewer was unable to listen to the evening’s final piece, Gershwin’s Symphonic Suite from the 1937 Opera Porgy and Bess.