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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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Saturday, July 22, 2017
Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Allan Pollack, conductor. Julie Kierstine, soprano;Donna Olson, also; Alex Boyer., tenor; Phil Meyer, bass

Verdi Requiem Performance July 22 in Festival Tent

SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL

by
Saturday, July 22, 2017

We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving rendering of Verdi’s 1874 (“Manzoni”) Requiem to the delight of an enthusiastic audience of 800 inside the white Tent erected on the spectacular Mendocino bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The laboring oars in this monumental effort were the four featured singers who rose mightily to the occasion. Their solo and ensemble singing were the wind in the sails of Verdi’s over-the-top theatrical score which made maximum use of his virtuosity as a writer of dramatic compositions. Operatics aside, the performance avoided bombast with a sensitive reading of dynamic contrast and sonic color. Amazingly, Mr. Pollack was able to keep orchestra, singers and chorus in a wonderful symbiotic balance where each could be heard, no one drowning the others out, even in the busiest sections.

The chorus was particularly well prepared for the long concert. Lyrics were clear and communicative, sections entered appropriately on cue and harmonies and dynamics always delivered to maximize dramatic effect as appropriate. One perhaps not so unusual observation was of a female member singing in one of the men’s sections. The voices were clearly put where they were best used. The double chorus had taken the better part of a year to master the complex Requiem and their hard work was rewarded with a mesmerizing performance.

The orchestra itself was full of seasoned and Festival emeritus musicians and their playing was the seabed upon which the entire effort was based. Steady when necessary and full of power and sensuality as needed, the orchestra contributed spectacularly to the musical whole. From the ancient and anchoring Dies Irae to the Tuba Mirum, with its offstage trumpeting (in this case outside the tent) Mr. Pollack managed to bring out the best in all the participants. Pacing was always appropriate and each piece that composed the whole carefully thought out. Mr. Pollack’s careful direction and engagement with his performers was apparent.

Julie Kierstine, soprano. Donna Olson, mezzo-soprano. Alex Boyer, tenor, and bass Phil Meyer gave soaring performances that held the audience in hushed awe, and the singing helped navigate the way through Verdi’s complex score. Playing lightly off each other at times, and giving full voice to compellingly dramatic sections made the performance one to remember.

The solemnity of a Catholic Requiem Mass can be overwhelming at times and the listener is likely to become reflective and sober in subsequent thoughts. What the composer managed to accomplish is a grand salute to the passing of life, but with a tasteful celebration of life woven into the score. The net result, especially with the high caliber of performance witnessed at the Festival’s closure, provided the audience with a transcendental experience.