On Saturday, March 18, 2017, a full house of concertgoers was excitedly assembled for what they were certain was going to be an evening of great music by the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro James Domine.
After a few words by the Maestro, and the playing of the National Anthem, the Orchestra performed the "Hebrides Overture" by Felix Mendelssohn. This overture was written after a trip to the Hebrides Island, "... to depict the movement of the sea and the rolling waves, as well as the loneliness and solitude..." he had experienced while exploring Fingal's Cave on the Island." These emotions were expressed beautifully by the Orchestra.
The piece that followed, "Pastorale Variee for Clarinet and Strings" by Paul Ben-Haim" is a ..."flowing work that embodies the Mediterranean school with long, meandering, melodic lines, irregular rhythms and subtle harmonies." Geoff Nudell, the clarinet soloist, was superb, and he was ablysupported by the strings. Throughout the performance, you could have heard a pin drop, but when the last note had drifted away, the room just exploded.
Geoff Nudell, clarinet; Ruth Bruegger, violin; Sally Berman, violin, Novi Novog, viola and Michelle Milner, 'cello then treated the audience to an encore, Carl Maria von Weber's "Clarinet Quintet - Finale: Allegro." This is a great piece, in four movements,but "the finale is the piece de resistance, a rollicking Rondo allegro giojoso, which bounces forward effortlessly like a horse racing into the wind." The audience expressed its appreciation with great applause.
The next work, by Sergei Prokofiev, "Symphony #1 in D major" (Classical), "... has genuinely thrilled people deeply and often since its premiere in 1918 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Through this music, Prokofiev was trying honestly to see what his relation to the past was." He wrote in his autobiography, "It seemed to me that had Haydn lived to our day he would have retained his own style, while accepting something of the new at the same time. That was the kind of symphony I wanted to write." This is a great piece which the audience enjoyed thoroughly, as was evident by their hearty applause and cheers.
The final piece of the evening was Antonin Dvorak's Violin Concerto in A minor," played by 18 year old phenom Aubree Oliverson. Words fail but, if you were there, you saw and heard something very, very special. If you were not, you missed a stellar performance by this lovely young woman. Poised, confident, unassuming and technically perfect, Aubree is destined to become a big star. Our audiences have been privileged to to see her perform three times now. Let us hope there will be a fourth time in the near future. This was a wonderful way to conclude a marvelous program!