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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, April 16, 2016
Chanticleer. Michael Bresnahan and Brian Hinman, tenor; Eric Alatorre, bass; Matthew Knickman, baritone; Marques Jerrell Ruff, bass-baritone; Nate Pence and Danita Mara Seth, soprano; Cortez Mitchell, Alan Reinhardt and Adam Ward, alrto

Chanticleer

CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016

The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was the moon that affects us in every aspect of our lives, physical, emotional, spiritual and even our moments of craziness. The pieces selected reflected this idea in multi faceted ways.
  
Radiating enthusiasm and confidence, the eleven singers strode onto the stage, elegant in tuxedos, and all their movements well coordinated. They launched immediately into Gerald Finzi's joyful "My Spirit Sang All Day,” followed by Monteverdi, Elgar’s "There is sweet music" and a second Monteverdi composition.  The sound was clear and rich, the blending of voices exquisite and nuanced, They sang of the exhilaration of love and of comfort to lovers. These songs from the 16th century and the 20th century, Italy and England, complemented each other. The singers effectively moved in and out of different positions and groupings. The hall provided a remarkable space for this choir to be heard in all its beauty of choral sounds.
   
The next set included four Renaissance composers, Orlando di Lasso, Busnois, Parsons and Josquin Desprez. A spoken introduction informed the audience of the great inventions of the Renaissance in every field, the pushing of boundaries and composers' desire to "unlock mysteries of the heavens." Lasso's Conditor alma siderum had the beauty of unison melting into full choir, at times creating organ-like sounds. Busnois’ (1430-1492)Gaude, celestis domino was the earliest piece and was full of playful and complex cross rhythms building to a joyful ending, and the singers were intensely watchful and mindful of each other. Robert Parsons’ Ave Maria was enchanting in its simplicity and harmonic beauty. The singing was effortless and natural. The Desprez Benedicta had the singers communicating palpably with the each other and the audience.
  
The third set moved from the Renaissance to "right now" with composer Nico Muhly. The Three Moon Songs was based on poetry by Giraud and were a 2015 commission. The first, "Harlequin,” presented charming soprano lines over repeated patterns making use of dissonance, humor and was always musically intelligible. Then "Moondrunk,” which had a robust solo by Marques Jerrell Ruff, had intriguing harmonies. The third of the set was received with delight by the audience - "The Alphabet" featured two soloists weaving around in jazzy scat style against a serious choir. Sudden stops and starts in the midst of perpetual motion and some vaudeville type gestures brought the audience to appreciative laughter.
  
Following the humor and liveliness, two profoundly moving Mahler masterpieces were sung. The first, Liebst du um Schoenheit (arr. Jennings), featured ethereal soprano notes and a solo by Cortez Mitchell over orchestral choir accompaniment. This was an audience favorite. The second, "Ich bin der Welt abandon gekommen", was performed with deep emotion and conveyed a sense of being rooted in great humanity and love. This set of Mahler songs was able to bring many in the hall to tears of joy and perhaps sorrow.

After an intermission of spirited lobby conversations and shared musical experiences the ensemble returned with a spectacular choral composition by Jaakko Mantyjarvi (b. 1963), “The tide rises, the tide falls.” Over a drone bass, waves of motives rose and fell. With simple means, this composer created a piece of depth and lovely motion. The sound of the choir was rich and full of color. This was followed by Mason Bates' Observer in the Magellanic Cloud, a futuristic piece exploring "primitive and mystery over the moon." At times intriguing, at others inscrutable, it was an experiment in different cultural effects and concepts.

Stephen Paulus's set from "The Lotus Lovers" (poetry by Tsu Yeh ) had variety of choral effects and techniques. There were fragmented phrases, beautiful glissandos, romantic harmonies and lively rhythmical singing ending with exciting bass octave jumps. A favorite was the one titled "All Night.” To end this exhilarating evening in a lighter mood, Chanticleer presented various arrangements of standards and traditional spirituals. The highly arranged "Fly me to the Moon" and "Moon River" were professionally performed though perhaps contrived. "There is a Balm in Gilead" (arr. Jennings) with magnificent soloist Mr. Ruff was compelling. Moses Hogan's "Ride the Chariot" was elating. The audience rose to applaud enthusiastically and brought Chanticleer back for an encore, "La Vie en Rose".
  
This was an evening of journeying through many phases of light and dark. As the words in Elgar's composition stated, "There is sweet music.”