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Symphony
SOLO BRILLIANCE IN SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Opera
OPERA GEMS IN COZY SEBASTOPOL THEATER
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Friday, February 9, 2024
Choral and Vocal
LUSTROUS VOCAL SOUND AT KUZMA'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Symphony
HAYDEN'S SAXOPHONE CONCERTO AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Ron Teplitz
Sunday, January 28, 2024
Chamber
SPIRITUAL STRING MUSIC IN BLACK OAK ENSEMBLE'S MARIN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 28, 2024
Chamber
VIRTUOSIC HARP RECITAL AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Chamber
EMOTIONAL BLOCH PIECE HIGHLIGHTS PELED'S RAC RECITAL
by Peter Lert
Sunday, January 21, 2024
Chamber
OYSTER TRIO AT THE ROSE SIGNATURE SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Chamber
CANTABILE CHARMS IN MIXED 222 GALLERY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Choral and Vocal
A GRAND DIVA'S SHIMMERING AND PROVOCATIVE RECITAL IN WEILL HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, January 11, 2024
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Roses Signature Concert Series / Sunday, October 15, 2023
Cantiamo Sonoma. Carol Menke, director

Cantiano Director Carol Menke

CANTIAMO BEGINS SIGNATURE SERIES IN OCT. 15 CONCERT

by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, October 15, 2023

Another welcoming concert by Cantiamo Sonoma ushered in the Fall season of the Signature Concerts series Oct. 15 at Santa Rosa’s Roses Presbyterian Church. In remarks from the stage Director Carol Menke said she was quite thrilled by the size of the audience, and the church was about two-thirds full. As always, her passion and musical instincts guided the ensemble like the figurehead on a sailing ship.

The twenty-two member ensemble gave warm and sensitive readings of short pieces in a nice variety of composers and styles, ranging from Orlando di Lasso to Moses Hogan. Soloists Drew Bolander, Liesel Hall, and Derrick Podlewski enriched the proceedings with polished performances.

The hour-long concert began with a set of six 16th century madrigals-actually five from that century (di Lasso, Morley, Bennet and Farmer) and the sixth an homage piece by 19th century composer Robert Pearsall. Morley’s “Shoot, False Love, I Care Not” was performed pristinely by an unconducted and uncredited (why?) solo quintet.

The next set was entitled “A Christmas preview” and revealed four pieces (Palestrina, Poulenc, Elizabeth Poston and Larry Nickel) that will be included on the upcoming Christmas concert. Ms. Menke announced the Poulenc as being harmonically challenging in some places, but this talented group managed to make this marvelous piece sound only a little bit challenging, with intonation and pitch onsets in the trickiest spots being only 99% perfect instead of their usual 100%.

The next set was contributed by one of their own members - three excellent homage pieces by composer-in-residence Nicolas Custer. Mr. Custer is the choir director at St. Seraphim’s Orthodox Church, and his scholarly interest in, and writing talent for, the Orthodox choral style landed authentically. Drawing from ancient texts, his settings are spiritually intimate and subtly mystical, vocally impeccable and musically compelling.

This wonderful hour concluded with rich arrangements of three spirituals, the first two by Hogan and ending with “Witness” by Jack Halloran. This one, set in a slow swing tempo, I thought could have been a little faster, and possibly even transposed up a step to heighten the effect as a closer. As an aside, it struck me how well-suited this particular group and director are to the exploration of some a capella jazz choir arrangements.

The audience stood at the end and the group provided one final beautiful piece: “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus, Ms. Menke’s expressive solo soprano soaring over the choir and literally bringing it home. In the afterglow of this group’s gift, I thought sometimes the only thing that helps or makes sense in the contemporary world is beautiful music.