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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Saturday, November 14, 2015
Norman Gamboa, conductor

So Co Philharmonic Conductor Norman Gamboa

LA ROCCA'S "CROSSING" A MINIMALIST DEBUT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 14, 2015

Conductor Norman Gamboa is known for innovative programming, especially with Latin-theme music, but in the Nov. 14 concert at Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Hall he chose three familiar works by American composers But true to form a new piece from local composer Frank LaRocca was also in the mix.

Barber’s The School for Scandal: Overture, the composer’s first popular work, received slow tempos but had additional clarity of instrumental voices that Mr. Gamboa coaxed from the Orchestra in under 10 minutes. Scruffy string playing was offset by wonderful wind voices from Nick Xenelis (clarinet), Chris Krive’s oboe and flutist Debra Scheuerman. Barber’s 1933 neo Romanticism was well served in the performance.

Four Dance Episodes from Copland’s music for the ballet Rodeo followed, each unique in texture and excitement. In his 115th birthday role Copland’s pre-1950 works now sound more readily Americana than Gershwin or Bernstein, and the bookends “Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe-Down” were played with flair and just the right amount of western “swing.” The conductor controlled the fast rhythmic sections with anchored tempos, and in the “Hoe-Down” the prominent piano part (Brien Wilson) alternated with lovely deep phrases in the cellos.

There was fetching harp playing in the bucolic “Corral Nocturne” and beguiling solos from English hornist Anthony Perry.

Following intermission and the always popular wine raffle Mr. La Rocca’s 1994 orchestral suite Crossing the Rubicon was expertly played, and in a surprising blend of minimalist forms. I don’t recall a large minimalist work being played in Sonoma County, save for long ago performances of Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and possibly Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

First came from a lonely piccolo theme (Emily Reynolds) over short crescendos, repeated unendingly, and more intricate oboe, harp and piano solos. The long and often lyrical melodic lines and pensive character of Crossing were carefully shaped by Mr. Gamboa, spiced by marimba and robust percussion playing. Mr. LaRocca’s Crossing is an effective composition, tightly crafted but unabashedly poetic. Audience members wanting music of minimalist dissonance needed to look elsewhere.

The composer was in the audience and was recognized by the conductor and a now standing Orchestra.

This reviewer was unable to listen to the evening’s final piece, Gershwin’s Symphonic Suite from the 1937 Opera Porgy and Bess.