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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

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.