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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
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...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Occidental Center for the Arts / Sunday, January 13, 2013
Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Xenelis, conductor. Norma Brown, piano; Jeff Chan, clarinet; Valerie Marshall, cello; Daniel Celidore, oboe; Paul Hadley, horn; Miranda Kincaid, bassoon; Christopher Fritzsche, countertenor

Nick Xenelis, Dan Celidore, Miranda Kinkaid, Paul Hadley and Jeffrey Chan

JAN. 13 OCCIDENTAL AND GUERNEVILLE PROGRAMS OPEN RIVER CONCERT SEASON

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 13, 2013

Russian River’s winter concert season began Jan. 13 with two events at nearly the same location and time, both programs packed with abundant vocal qualities.

Sonia Tubridy’s River Choir performed their annual Winterfest concert in the Guerneville Community Church before 30 ardent listeners. The 12-member choir, diminished from their usual number because of illness, began with a series of short works of Susato, Mozart, Andrejs Jansons, Schubert and Bach.

Director Tubridy did extra duty at the piano and even used a small rhythmic drum in Pietro Yon’s "Gesu Bambino." First-half soloists included Kathrin Williams, Lois Pearlman, Jean Ashley and Tom Lowrie.

The balance of the concert was not heard due to a short drive to Occidental for the Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra’s concert in the town’s cozy Performing Arts Center. A warm beginning was offered in the opening Clarinet Trio of Brahms, Op. 114, with pianist Norma Brown, clarinetist Jeffrey Chan and cellist Valerie Marshall. In each of the four movements, the players highlighted the innate lyricism of the work from Brahms’ last period.

Norma Brown is an old friend to this trio. She played with a subdued approach, probably because of the vacuous sound of the instrument she was given, and the composer’s generally autumnal writing. I suspect it’s also the way she perceives the piece, and her colleagues followed suit. Mr. Chan spun lovely phrases in the beginning Allegro and subsequent Adagio, and Ms. Marshall, overcoming some intonation and upper register difficulties, played with a flowing and full bottom register. At times the clarinet covered the other instruments, but after all it’s a clarinet work. The unison playing in the closing Allegro was bracing, and the ensemble tidy.

Counterenor Christopher Fritzsche joined consummate oboist Daniel Celidore in selections from Vaughn Williams’ "Ten Blake Songs for High Voice," written a year before the composer’s death in 1958. Beginning with "The Lamb," the interplay between the somber oboe line and the airy, occasionally melismatic singing was captivating. Often the two parts were far apart harmonically, the oboe playing seemingly giving no direct assistance to the singer. There are echoes here of the opera "Riders to the Sea." The monochromatic nature of the high vocal part, in Mr. Fritzsche’s deliberately sparse phrasing, had a bit of menace. "A Poison Tree," "Ah! Sunflower," "Eternity" and "The Piper" were the final songs, the last the most jaunty.

Conductor Nicholas Xenelis’ 19-member Santa Rosa Chamber Orchestra somehow found room on the small stage and concluded the concert with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn and Orchestra, K. 297b. Throughout the three-movement work, Mr. Xenelis favored leisurely tempos. The opening Allegro, with its numerous repeated expositions, tended to the deliberate. The conductor focused his attention on control of dynamics to exemplary effect, eliciting excellent ensemble in a sporadically scrappy orchestra sound, and his deference to the four soloists was deft. Mozart’s masterful writing for winds was everywhere in evidence, and the conductor was in total command, rarely looking at the score before him.

In addition to Mr. Celidore, the soloists included Mr. Chan, bassoonist Miranda Kinkaid and hornist Paul Hadley. The pungent clarinet and oboe parts in this hall tended to overpower the upper strings (though not Bill Fouty’s sonorous bass playing), and the E Flat tonality in the entire piece brought continuity and delectable long phrases to the thematic material. Under Mr. Xenelis’ paced direction the music was iterative, but it never meandered.

In the 10-variation finale, the virtuosity of the solo quartet shone, especially the discourse of clarinet and oboe, resulting in a standing ovation from the 125 in attendance. Proceeds from the concert benefited the Performing Arts Center.