Pops concert ends season with bang
By Marilyn Mantay
Fairfield Daily Republic, CA
May 3 2005
Daily Republic CORRESPONDENT
When the Solano Community Symphony presented the Annual Pops Concert –
the last concert of the orchestra’s 18th season – nobody was having
more fun than the musicians.
They projected excitement in vibrant solo passages, rousing refrains
and brassy fanfares at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theater on Sunday
afternoon. They gave strong backing to their guest trumpet soloist,
It was mostly energetic music set in motion by Conductor Semyon Lohss,
and with enthusiasm high, the orchestra seemed to reach out to the
audience in a great big musical bear hug.
Of course a concert beginning with Victor Herbert and ending with
John Phillip Sousa, and including selections from “Kiss Me Kate”
and “Camelot,” offers the pleasures of the familiar. But there were
delightful surprises as well: A little piano (Teri Yumai) and trombone
(Gary Piner) duet; a classy closing for selections from “Camelot”
with Concertmaster Abraham Becker’s solo turns; a strong repetitive
grounding by cellos and basses for otherwise languid strings playing
Astor Piazzolla’s romantic “Melodia”; and from there a transformation
when violinists, playing Leroy Anderson’s “Fiddle Faddle,” became
instant fiddlers, and perpetual motion fiddlers at that.
Now to the trumpet soloist. After last concert’s disaster with the
piano solo – turns out, according to information from the Symphony
president, that it was the sound not the pianist – my fingers were
crossed. They needn’t have been. Brian Anderson chose the splendid
Trumpet Concerto in E Flat (1950) by Armenian composer Alexander
Arutunian, a piece that emphasizes scales and minor key passages that
make it seem Eastern, but has a short middle passage that feels very
much like jazz.
Anderson embraced all that variety. And he could make fast arpeggios
as smooth as flowing water or as edgy as broken glass. Yes, it was
the performance of a virtuoso.
The balance between soloist and orchestra was excellent. It seemed
to be achieved by simply making everything loud. You could hear pages
being turned by the musicians; you could hear a sloppy entrance or exit
– fortunately very few; and you could hear wrong notes. But you could
also hear and see music being made. When it’s great, as Anderson was,
you are thrilled. When it’s exciting, as the orchestra was, you are
Adding to the excitement were solos. Charles Little’s horn in the
“Trumpet Concerto” was a delight. From the orchestra were fine
contributions by Dan Scharlin (flute), Charles Bell (oboe and
English horn), Greg Gallant (clarinet), Bob Sindlar (bass clarinet
and saxophone), Roger Abrew (trumpet). Throughout the afternoon, the
trombone section with a good assist from trumpets and tuba, turned
march pieces like “Stars and Stripes Forever” into rousing . . .
well, marches. And speaking of the great Sousa work, who could forget
the piccolos? For slick high-pitched piping, credit Scharlin, Heather
Wisswell and Cyndi Chancellor.
If a writer has a favorite piece, it has to be the selections Lohss
chose from Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate.” In what other show are there
songs to call forth such a range of adjectives? Without even trying:
sultry, perky, romantic, playful, and, of course, classy. It was so,
so Broadway. And lots of fun besides.
With the season over, the symphony folks are looking ahead. First comes
the 14th Annual Home Tour on Saturday, May 14. Homes presented will
be in Fairfield and Vacaville, and tickets include lunch that will
be served on the Pavilion of the Vacaville Museum. Tickets are $30,
or $100 for parties of four. For information call 447-7275 or 447-1453.
And with the 18th season over, the 19th is announced. The opening
concert, Oct. 8 in Fairfield and Oct. 9 in Vacaville, will feature the
“Shostokovich Symphony No. 5.” For the Holiday concert in December, the
Solano Choral Society will join the orchestra. In February, the Salute
to Youth will feature winners of the Young Artists Competition. A
perennial favorite, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” will also be
performed. In March, pianist Dickram Atamian will return, this time
to perform Tchaikowsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” Which brings us to
a year from this week when the Annual Pops Concert is set for May 6
and 7, 2006.
Marilyn Mantay is a Davis-based music and theater reviewer and can
be reached at [email protected]
Solano Community Symphony
Annual Pops Concert