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SYMPHONY REVIEW
Sonoma County Philharmonic / Sunday, November 14, 2021
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Morgan Harrington, soprano

Morgan Harrington Nov. 14

NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021

In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the ďPeopleís OrchestraĒ in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff.

Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boisterous sound from 13 brass instruments and timpanist Joseph Lang in Richard Straussí Festival Overture, a work from 1909 that is usually heard for full orchestra and organ. In the conductorís abbreviated edition that ran 12 minutes the four trumpets extended Mr. Langís slow introduction into a slow and soft celebratory mood provided by the horns and tubist Floyd Reinhart.

Completing the short first half was Barberís popular Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24, a nostalgic dialogue for orchestra and solo vocalist, here sung by soprano Morgan Harrington. The tentative and fluid opening had the right shimmer, the harp (Christina Kopriva) easily heard over pizzicato from the violas and cellos. Singing from score, Ms. Harrington was best in the musicís lower ranges, as the hallís acoustics and string section sound tended to cover her often strident top notes. Itís not a work that is kindly to the vocal demands of many high register notes with a swelling orchestra sound.

The references to jazz were played well, juxtaposed with the laconic atmosphere produced by the themes with often the same notes for soloist and orchestra. There was a lovely ascending four-note phrase with Ms. Harrington joining hornist John Lounsbery, and Mr. Gamboa fashioned a drawn out quiet ending that was captivating.

Following intermission and the traditional wine raffle Beethovenís B-Flat Major Symphony (No. 4, Op. 60) was played, but was not reviewed.