OK..back to The Pub…with a reminder that we’re not all about politics and religion here.
Last night I went to A Chamber Music Concert performed by the Shasta Symphony Orchestra (SSO), conducted by Dr. Dwayne Corbin. One of the side effects of my obsession with Star Wars back in the ’70s was that it sparked an interest in classical and other orchestral music which continues to this day. Last night’s concert kicked off the concert season for the SSO. The SSO is “a cooperative ensemble of Simpson University and Shasta College.”
The venue was All Saints Episcopal Church in Redding, CA. I loved the architecture. The sanctuary (not sure if that’s the ‘official’ Episcopalian term for it, but…) had a traditional high vaulted ceiling with an enormous pipe organ up at the head. The building is situated on an east-west axis. The windows on the north side are a traditional looking narrow-but-tall opening with a sharp arch at the top. The south windows are a series of more contemporary floor-to-ceiling panes that really give the sanctuary an open, inviting feel.
This turned out to be a popular event! It looked like the church has pew seating for about 200. The pews were full and overflow seating had to be set up. Dr. Corbin said they had printed 150 programs, and they were long gone when Josh and I showed up about 15 minutes before the program started. When the music started, it looked to me like there were probably 300-350 people in attendance. (Maximum capacity for the building is over 500, so the fire marshal rules were not an issue!)
The music….aaahhhhh, the music! I am always amazed that non-amplified instruments can so completely fill large halls like this with sound.
The first song was Serenade in Eb Major, Op. 7 by Richard Strauss. Now, this is not the Strauss that wrote The Blue Danube, which is what I thought. That was Johann Strauss, in the 1800s. This is by Richard Strauss, who was born in the 1800s, but also lived through the Nazi regime in Germany. (He was not a friend of Hitler, or Goebbels.) He wrote another piece you might be familiar with, Also sprach Zarathustra. Still not familiar? It’s the piece that opens the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. OK…now you know! Anyway, the Serenade in Eb was performed last night with wind instruments and one double bass. Having hung out with bluegrass players for a couple of years, is was kinda odd to see a bass played with a bow. It was all simply beautiful!
This was followed by pieces by Prokofiev (Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34) and Mendelssohn (Octet in E♯ Major, Op. 20). Fifty minutes of nearly pure sound! Awesome.
The highlight of the evening for me was the first piece played after the intermission. The full orchestra…woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion…was assembled to play the world premier of an original piece with three movements composed by one of the orchestra members! From the program:
Christine Doud, a Redding psychotherapist, came to formal music just eight years ago. She continues working in her profession, but finds herself increasingly immersed in music both as a composer and violist…
This suite was Christine Doud’s first composition and with it she began to satisfy a lifelong desire to create musically. It was originally conceived and composed as an oboe quintet (oboe and string quartet) for a benefit concert, and was ultimately published in that form. This year, Christine decided to try her hand at orchestrating the piece. It was read at the SSO April 2013 Open Reading Session. Dr. Corbin recognized the potential and unique voice of the work and features Musings, a Suite for Orchestra for its world premier tonight.
What an accomplishment! Christine truly deserved the standing ovation she received!
The evening concluded with Suite no. 2 for Small Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky. It was a comical piece, with four movements of a March, a Waltz, a Polka, and a Gallop. Lotsa energy in this one!
I’m looking forward to the rest of the Shasta Symphony Orchesta’s concert season!