On Saturday evening, September 23, 2017, the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra gave its inaugural performance at its beautiful new home venue, the Agoura Performing Arts Education Center, in Agoura Hills. Maestro James Domine came onstage to thank the audience for coming to hear the orchestra on this momentous occasion, after which the orchestra members settled into their chairs and the concert began.
The first selection was the Overture to "William Tell" by Rossini, which opened with a hauntingly beautiful melody played by the solo 'cello, and then was joined by all the strings and eventually the entire orchestra. Becoming louder and faster and very exciting, it finally reached what the audience was waiting for, the music that everyone knows and loves from long ago, the theme from the radio show, "The Lone Ranger." At its conclusion, the audience exploded with applause and cheers.
Next on the program were three young women who were the winners of the Music Teachers Association of California concerto competition. First up was Ronnie Zhang, who performed the "Carmen Fantasy" by Sarasate. An extremely difficult piece to play, this 13 year old "nailed it." She was incredible, playing flawlessly and causing the audience to gasp at the speed with which her bow moved over the strings. She finished to great applause and cheers from the delighted audience.
The next violinist, Audrey Park, age 14, played the second and third movements of the "Violin Concerto in G minor," by Bruch, one of the most beautiful violin concertos in the repertoire. Her poise and confidence belied her young age; the slow parts of the melody were played beautifully and the sound that came from her violin was exquisite. The audience sat entranced until the end and then showed their appreciation with hearty applause and cheering.
The final soloist, pianist Ivy Lee, age 16, played the first movement of Gershwin's "Concerto in F" with great skill and artistry. The masterful play between the jazz and symphonic motifs was delightful throughout. As a critic once put it, "There's a beautiful dramatic and sensual quality" to this piece and it is uniquely American. The audience loved it! Ivy, Ronnie, and Audrey all received standing ovations.
After a short intermission, Maestro Domine returned to the stage to conduct the orchestra in a great performance of one of the most beloved of Beethoven's works, the "Symphony #5 in C minor." There is little one can add to everything that has been said about this magnificient piece, other than to say that no matter how many times you have seen it performed or listened to it, it is always fresh and exciting and thrilling from start to finish. At the end, the audience erupted with applause and cheers, and stood to acknowledge the orchestra's wonderful playing under the baton of Maestro Domine.
It was an outstanding evening of "Great Music Close to Home!"