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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...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Church of the Incarnation / Friday, March 25, 2016
St. Cecilia Choir, Cantiamo Sonoma, Incarnation Chamber Orchestra and soprano Claire Frydenlund. Carol Menke, conductor

Carol Menke (left) lauds performers after March 25 Requiem performance

RUTTER REQUIEM PERFORMANCE ENNOBLES GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT AT INCARNATION

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 25, 2016

There is a lot to like in John Rutter’s Requiem. Composed in 1985, it’s arguably the most performed large choral work of recent times, and it was a labor of love for choral director Carol Menke’s musicians in a memorable Good Friday concert in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation.

Splendid Requiems seem perfectly suited to Incarnation, and I recall recent Duruflé and Cherubini versions, and another Rutter directed by effervescent Ms. Menke three years ago. The March 25 concert before a standing room audience was a radiant transversal of the short 45-minute score that involved Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir, a tiny orchestra and soloist soprano Claire Frydenlund.

Rutter’s warmly accessible work comprises seven movements with Latin liturgy and additional texts in English, and in this performance 24 singers with Robert Young’s organ (often in pedal point) combined with six musicians under Ms. Menke’s deft control. Timpanist John Weeks, harpist Wendy Tamis and flutist Jane Shelly played well in the opening Introit and Kyrie, though choir entrances sporadically were ragged and the ensemble initially unsteady but quickly settled down.

The somber “Out of the Deep” began with a moving lament from cellist Laura McLellan that wove in and out of the vocal fabric, and the antiphonal effects in the small sanctuary were clear. Ms. Frydenlund’s soprano had greater resonance and command when she sang at the top of her range, over long organ, cello and harp phrases.

The celebratory Sanctus was enlivened all the more by Tim Dent's’ glockenspiel playing, a contrast to the dirge-like Agnus Dei with an extended and haunting flute solo by Ms. Shelly. Psalm 23 is the text for the bucolic sixth part (“The Lord is My Shepherd”) where the rich Andante vocal lines blossomed out of an extended fabric of elegant oboe playing by Laura Reynolds.

In the finale Lux Aeterna Ms. Frydenlund, singing from the choir, returned with a chaste duo with the flute and soft timpani. Here the music became glowing and presented a transfiguring effect on the audience.

After the last notes Ms. Menke’s hands slowly returned to rest, and as she turned to acknowledge the rapt hearers, there was no response for at least ten seconds before ovation broke the silence. The conductor, Sonoma County’s busiest and best-known soprano, has developed a penchant for producing captivating requiem performances that ennoble their calendar season, composer and community.