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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
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Violinist Lin He

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 Sonoma County Philharmonic managed to master the new hall and produced music at their usual high level before 250 people, with a repeat the following afternoon.

Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a warm sound from his orchestra in the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46, with violin soloist Lin He. Mr. He’s focused and plangent sound was never large, and recalled the recent poised but not extravagant or high temperature approach of violinist Jennifer Koh with the Marin Symphony. The conductor’s section placement was usual (second violins stage left) but the concert harp was surprisingly positioned next to the cellos, and soloist Cristina Kopriva had a prominent part in the lyrical Bruch.

Acoustics in the Jackson were sharply less reverberant than the Santa Rosa High School hall, but warm and direct with the lip of the balcony much closer to the stage front than at SRHS. This seemed to favor the poetry of the adagio cantabile, ending with Mr. He’s brilliant high e string note. The scherzo’s expressive themes were projected well by Ms. Kopriva and Mr. He, with the latter’s wide vibrato and lovely trills.

Intonation difficulties at the opening of the andante sostenuto and blurring in fast scale passages resolved quickly, and Mr. He played the virtuoso ascending and descending runs and double stops in exemplary fashion. Passages from the five horns were splendid. The finale was lively with Mr. Gamboa in consummate control and Mr. He widening his vibrato and finishing the cadenza with a long and perfectly shaped trill.

Following intermission English hornist Anthony Perry and trumpeter Tom Hyde were the soloists in Copeland’s meditative 11-minute Quiet City, composed in 1941. As usual Mr. Hyde’s conclusive playing was never piercing or shrill, and he swelled on notes to achieve substantial loudness. The unique English horn sound has been in my ears since first hearing it in the introduction to the third act of Tristan und Isolde, and here Mr. Perry beguiling playing was softly effective. Mr. Gamboa drew subtle string playing from the reduced orchestra, and his pacing was generous.

Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36, concluded the concert in a performance where brass and horn solos were prominent, and splendid playing abounded throughout. Mr. Gamboa was clearly shaping the long thematic line throughout the 14 variations. Fetching individual playing came from clarinetist Nick Xenelis; flutists Emily Reynolds and Valerie White; Miranda Kincaid (bassoon) and in several short solos by violist Robby Morales.

The famous adagio variation (No. 9, “Nimrod”) was played with a light touch and the conductor moved the tempo and shaped a lovely flute phrase. There was only a brief accelerando leading to the finale, and throughout the 33-minute piece Mr. Gamboa never was in any hurry, letting instrument sound ranging from Floyd Reinhart’s tuba part to frequently rumbling strings to shine forth.

The Jackson provided a happy musical home for its new resident orchestra.

Ending the 20th anniversary season will be concerts in Jackson April 6 (7:30) and 7 (2:00) with the main work Prokofiev’s monumental Fifth Symphony in B Flat Major, Op. 100.