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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...
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....
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, January 24, 2016
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Bruce Chrisp, trombone

Trombonist Bruce Chrisp

SOLO AND ENSEMBLE BRASS PEAL POWERFULLY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 24, 2016

Known for its novel programming, the Sonoma County Philharmonic has frequently engaged local soloists, with flutist Kathleen Reynolds and pianists Lauren Xie and Marilyn Thompson coming quickly to mind. In their Jan. 23 concert, featuring German composers, conductor Norman Gamboa united a rare mid 19th mini concerto for trombone with another Sonoma County soloist, Bruce Chrisp.

Playing the Ferdinand David Op. 4 Concertino, Mr. Chrisp gave the 1841 piece a convincing performance without score before 250 in the Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. His control of the seemingly unwieldy instrument was surefooted, even when the notes jumped from the low register to repeated and drawn-out high pitches. Thematic statements were boldly projected and the pesky trills confidently attacked.

There was no break between the Allegro and the melodramatic Andante and Mr. Chrisp was impressive in swelling volume in the low register and the beautiful long-held note at the end of the movement.
Most of the audience held their breath until the note stopped.

Music in the concluding Allegro was a little operatic in places, tuneful with a predictable cadenza and a heroically played ending from the soloist. Respond to loud bravos, Mr. Chrisp accepted a bouquet and impishly stick it into the horn of his ineffable instrument.

Brahms’ E Minor Symphony (Op. 98) closed the concert, a conservative format work composed at the time of Wagner’s symphonic radicalism and Mahler’s first Symphony. It may be “old fashioned” in style but its beauty and craftsmanship are beyond reproach. Horns are critical in the opening Allegro and Mr. Gamboa gave the SoCoPhil’s horn quartet, led by Eric Anderson and Bruce Blaikie, full rein. The lovely opening themes were played invitingly and in a dialogue between the first and second violins. Woodwinds (clarinetists Nick Xenelis and Cathy Brooks) and pizzicato strings played a vigorous variant of the first theme under Mr. Gamboa’s restrained direction.

This trenchantly grim movement came to a close with timpanist Walt Bodley’s powerful strokes, and the slow movement began with idyllic music from the horns, and later from flutists Emily Reynolds and Debra Scheuerman. The cutoffs were good and the conductor’s control developed the majesty of the writing.

In the third movement Ms. Reynolds’ piccolo and Mary Gillespie-Greenberg’s ringing triangle made the ever-changing harmonies in a rambunctious Scherzo sound almost giddy.

Brahms wrote a powerful Passacaglia to close his Fourth Symphony, using a form of variations (32 in all) on a repeated bass or reiterated harmonic progression. Woodwinds and brass (now joined for the first time by trombones) are prominent, with rolling drums, and Mr. Gamboa had his hands full keeping continuity and clarity in the tempo changes. There is passion and release in this movement, all driving to a conclusion that blanketed some of the string sounds. The ovation was long enough for the conductor to recognize individual musicians and one section.

Weber’s Overture to the 1824 Opera “Oberon” opened the program, a merry and suave ten-minute work that lacked string power but featured potent brass playing.