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MOVIE MUSIC ON THE WINDSOR GREEN IN SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 3, 2021
People approaching the Windsor Green bandstand Oct. 3 for the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s season opening concert had some cause for concern. After 18 months of silence would the all-volunteer orchestra have enough musicians for a big movie music program? After all, performers can move, retire, or
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SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY RETURNS IN TRIUMPH
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is often the case that a single piece or performer steals the show at a symphony concert, but at the Oct. 3 performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony, the show itself stole the show. The concert opened with a serene 1982 tone poem by Libby Larsen, followed by a masterful performance by soloist Julia
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TWO WIND SOLOISTS CHARM AT SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 26, 2021
The house of music has many rooms. That dusty adage was never truer than when Weill Hall Sept. 25 hosted a roaring New Orleans-style musical party, and less than a day later a mostly sedate Sonoma State University student orchestra performance. Before a crowd of 200 conductor Alexander Kahn led a
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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
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
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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
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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
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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
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THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti
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BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, April 25, 2021
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. Joseph Edelberg, violin

Violinist Joseph Edelberg

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 works capped by a larger-scale familiar piece that seemed to sweep away the sonic memory of what came before. Presumably many program selections are dictated by the number of available musicians, the needs of the video recording, and COVID restrictions. Filming in Weill Hall was April 10.

Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte for String Orchestra opened, a 2011 composition that Mr. Lecce-Chong took at a brisk clip over 12 minutes. Adelle-Kiko Kearns’ sorrowful cello line frequently echoed the pizzicato strings and the effective just-off-pitch demands of the score. Violinist Jay Zhong’s high register slides and string squeaks sounded unique, as did Ms. Kearns’ coda, where she played short phrases of swells and pauses, followed by softly strumming her instrument with guitar-like notes fading to an eerie silence.

Appearing for his ninth Symphony formal concert solo, concertmaster Joseph Edelberg played Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Romance for Violin and Piano, also written in 2011. The initial music featured bassoonist Carla Wilson but quickly moved to Mr. Edelberg’s elegant interpretation, played from score, and equally quickly moving ahead to faster virtuoso playing that reminded one of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto.

There was piquant flute playing from Kathleen Reynolds, and Mr. Edelberg made the most of the music’s periods of repose, his vibrato widening to a subdued ending.

Prior to intermission, instrumental solos were on display in Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 4 for Chamber Orchestra (1996), one of nine the Mexican composer has written. Here again Ms. Wilson’s bassoon started things off, paired with wood blocks from the percussion section. Then came thematic handoffs to oboe (Laura Reynolds), flute, horn (Meredith Brown), soprano sax and regular clarinet (Mark Wardlaw and Roy Zajac), muted trumpet (Scott Macomber), trombone (Kurt Patzner) and finally the not quite tango playing of pianist Kymry Esainko. The conductor meticulously shepherded the infectious rhythms and solo entries over 11 minutes that seemed short and were a concert highlight.

Tchaikovsky’s splendid C Major Serenade (Op. 48) concluded the concert, the attacks and releases mostly accurate and the 32 musicians seemingly enjoying the production of waves of rich late 19th Century sound. Low-end string sonority is critical to this Serenade, as is patrician phrasing and precise articulation. Mr. Lecce-Chong generally avoids extremes of tempo and especially rubato. This avoidance was most apparent in the super-romantic Élégie movement, where additional phrase ritards would have been welcome. More schmaltz? Hardly, but similar to the great horn solo in the composer’s E Minor Symphony, the big violin theme in the Élégie asks for subtle expansion of the lush melodic line, and here the conductor chose moderation.

That said, the six cellos and four basses supported glorious string playing in the charming Waltz movement, with some instruments muted. Mr. Lecce-Chong was in no hurry to get anywhere in the final Andante-Allegro. He deftly controlled instrumental sections and the musical excitement mounted, finishing with a triumphal string octave jump and a resounding short coda and long fermata.

Video production at this virtual concert was first cabin with ample close-ups of the musicians and excellent sound.