Classical Music Season

Just Classic

Bass Man: Yo-Yo Ma returns to Santa Rosa.

Photo by J. Henry Fair

Concert season reaches crescendo

By Greg Cahill

I HAVE a private joke,” says New Century Chamber Orchestra concert master Stuart Canin. “My fondest hope is that we’d last until the next century, just to fulfill the promise of our name.

“It looks like we’ll make our mark,” he adds with a laugh.

Five years ago, the NCCO was something of an anomaly–a conductorless, strings-only ensemble that stayed on its collective feet and engaged the audience in intimate, often intense performances. Some critics wrote them off as a gimmick.

They’re no fluke.

The orchestra’s first recording, 1996’s Written with the Heart’s Blood (New Albion), a remarkable collection of Shostakovich pieces, garnered a coveted Grammy nomination this year, and the Mill Valley­based orchestra is touring further afield.

NCCO returns to the North Bay on Sunday, May 4, at 5 p.m. to wrap up its exciting 1996-97 concert season with the world premiere of NCCO violist Kurt Rohde’s “Oculus,” Grieg’s “Holberg Suite;” Alberto Williams’ “Segunda Suite Argentina para Instrumentos de Arco,” and Britten’s “Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge” at the Osher Jewish Community Center, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Tickets are $10-$22. For details, call 415/479-2000.

“In these days, with arts organizations struggling for their lives, you never know how long you’ll be around,” says Canin. “But we’ve made an impression. We seem to have touched a nerve.”

Random notes: Cello great Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Pamela Frank, and Santa Rosa Symphony conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane reunite Friday, May 16, at a gala evening of chamber music at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. The program features selections of works by Schubert, Ravel, and Brahms. Tickets are $35, $50, and $125 (including a champagne reception with the guest players). Call 54-MUSIC for information.

Meanwhile, pianist Eldar Nebolsin performs Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Santa Rosa Symphony on May 10, 11, and 12. Music director Kahane also will lead the orchestra in Bach’s Suite No. 3 and Bartok’s “Dance Suite” in the final concerts of the 1996-97 season.

The Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Ensemble, under the baton of Asher Raboy, will present its 38th annual Spring Concert on Sunday, May 4, at 4 p.m. in the concert chamber at LBC. The program features three young award-winning soloists from the orchestra: cellist Jonathan Beard, pianist Grace Ho, and pianist Carol Kim. Tickets are $6 adults and $4 students.

On Monday, May 12, the Youth Orchestra performs two free concerts for schoolchildren in kindergarten through third grade, at 9:30 and 11 a.m. at LBC. Students from public and private schools are welcome. Special reservations are required (546-7097, ext. 19).

The symphony’s Youth Wind Ensemble, directed by Andy Collinsworth, presents its third annual Spring Concert on Tuesday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Auditorium of Maria Carrillo High School, 4999 Montecito Blvd., Santa Rosa. Tickets are $6 adults and $4 students/seniors.

The Sonoma County Bach Society presents its season finale on May 9 and 10 with “Comforts and Praise,” a program that includes three Bach motets. The performances will be repeated at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Rohnert Park and St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Petaluma. Tickets are $12 general; $10 SSU faculty, alumni, staff, and seniors; $6 students. For details, call 664-4234.

If you heard the heavenly sounds of the Anonymous 4 at their recent St. Vincent’s Church performance, check out the Monteverdi Singers in a program of early polyphony from the 12th and 13th centuries, on Saturday, May 3, at 8 p.m. at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Rohnert Park. Tickets are $4 general, $3 fans, $2 students, and $1 SSU students.

For a slightly different spin, the Redwood Arts Council presents the innovative Modern Mandolin Quartet, Windham Hill recording artists, on Saturday, May 3, at 8:30 p.m. at the Occidental Community Church, Second and Church streets, Occidental. Tickets are $15. Call 874-1124 for information.

Other key events include Baroque Sinfonia’s concert finale on Friday, May 2 (at LBC), and Sunday, May 4 (at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma; call 546-4504 for details); the Russian River Chamber Music Society’s free Kids Konzert on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m. at the Federated Church, 1100 University Ave., Healdsburg (524-8700); and the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus presentation of Handel’s dramatic oratorio “Solomon” on Friday, May 2, at 8 p.m. at the St. James Catholic Church, 125 Sonoma Mountain Road, Petaluma; Saturday, May 3, at 8:15 at Our Lady of Guadalupe, 8400 Old Redwood Hwy., Windsor; and Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m. at St. Eugene’s Cathedral, 2323 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa; tickets are $10 general, $8 seniors and students (573-9506).

From the May 1-7, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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