Fall Concert Season Opener -- November 19, 2022

On Saturday evening, November 19, 2022 the orchestra held its inaugural performance at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, our new home in the San Fernando Valley.  A wonderful evening of music unfolded to an excited full house. 

The program opened with the playing of our National Anthem, followed by pre-concert comments from Maestro James Domine regarding the works to be performed. 

The first piece was the inaugural performance, “El Portal Overture,” originally written by a 25 year old James Domine and now repurposed for the evening’s concert. 

Following were Pablo Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweiesen,” performed by violist Sky Wen, and Tomaso Antonio Vitali’s” Chaconne, performed by violist Zoe Barton. Both of these young ladies played brilliantly and were rewarded by the audience with applause, cheers, and standing ovations. No doubt there are wonderful futures lying in store for them! 

After a brief intermission came the icing on the cake: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony #7 in A major.” Reviewing Beethoven is nearly impossible but, as it was once said, “this work is an enduring testament to Beethoven’s genius.” 

The orchestra, under the baton of Maestro James Domine, did him great justice in performing and conducting this magnificent symphony. As the audience was exiting the theater, many were heard to say what a wonderful evening of great music it was.

Year of the Violin Concerto -- March 2022 Concert

The first piece on the program was the World Premiere - Inaugural Performance of James Domine’s Violin Concerto No. 3, with Yoo-Min Seo giving a stunning performance of skill and panache. She is imbued with the authoritative confident assurance of an experienced virtuoso, remarkable that she is just at the beginning of what appears to be a promising career as a solo violinist. 

Since this concert featured Yoo-Min as violin soloist in the inaugural presentation of the “Concerto#3 in A minor” by James Domine, any account of her performance on this occasion is necessarily entwined with first impressions of that compositon, which are fortuitously favorable for both composer and protagonist. Clocking in at almost 40 minutes duration, the concerto is a substantial undertaking both in the considerable demands it makes upon the soloist and in the many moods reflected in the three movements of the piece. The piece opens with a soliloquy played by the solo violin and, before the orchestra even plays a note, we are already captivated by the alluring warmth and delicate sound of You-Min’s violin as it weaves its magic. 

One is always wary of contemporary compositions given what sometimes passes for new music. In this case I am happy to report that Yoo-Min gave a convincingly insightful interpretation of this new work, and judging by the standing ovation she received at the conclusion of the concert, the audience appreciated her efforts. I shall write more on the Domine “Concerto #3” in a separate review; for now I refer the reader to the program notes for a descriptive synopsis of the piece. 

For her part, Yoo-Min met and exceeded the challenges and expectations of the new concerto, giving an outstanding performance that sets a high standard for any violinist who may want to play this work in the future. 

This reviewer sees a very bright future for both the Concerto and Ms. Seo!

December Concert 2021 - Tchaikovsky, Domine, Rachmaninoff

On Saturday evening, December 11, 2021, the orchestra, under the baton of Maestro James Domine, performed its second concert since Covid caused all musical entertainment to be closed down in 2020. The Maestro took stage and warmly welcomed and thanked the audience, all wearing facemasks, for their presence. 

Following the playing of our National Anthem, 15 year old pianist Michelle Bi performed  Domine’s “Sonata #r3 in A minor” (Wind of Time) in a special arrangement for Chamber orchestra and piano solo.  Ms. Bi, as always, played beautifully. 

Excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ,“The Nutcracker Suite,” namely the ever popular ’Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Waltz of the Flowers” followed.  With Nara Petrosyan on celesta, it was delightful and at just at the right time of the year. 

The Inaugural  Performance of Domine’s, “Symphony #2 in D minor in five movements (Ancient Scenes) followed. This programmatic symphony was first performed in November, 2007 with Maestro Domine conducting the orchestra. Subsequently, it underwent an extensive process of editorial renovation. The result is a score that wonderfully reflects orchestral colors associated with modern and impressionistic musical styles. To this reviewer’s ears, and based upon the audience’s applause, cheers, and whistles, I give it an “A+”   

After a brief intermission, Maestro  Domine and soloist David Pinto came onstage to perform the “Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2 in C minor.” The collaboration of the SFVSO and Mr. Pinto is a long one. He has performed with the orchestra many times and was greeted warmly.  The audience settled in to listen to what we already knew was going to be a wonderful performance. They acknowledged it with a standing ovation and, as they left the concert hall with smiling faces, many were heard remarking how very much they had enjoyed the evening.

SFVSO Fall Festival Concert 2021 - Two Violin Concertos

On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the musicians under the baton of Maestro James Domine finally returned to the concert stage. (Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Orchestra’s previous performance was on March 20, 2020.) 

The program began with the playing of our National Anthem. It was followed by Franz von Suppe’s, “Light Cavalry Overture,” an exciting and rousing piece of music which musicians love to play  and orchestras around the world include as a staple part of their repertoire. The audience showed their appreciation with a very nice ovation. 

“Les Preludes,” by Franz Liszt, was next on the program, a dazzling, free-flowing symphonic poem that is by far his most popular prelude. It is said by some that it is the flagship for his daring style of “new music.”  Liszt was famous for his ability to create beautiful textures, and had a smooth way of developing the whole piece from a simple melody. The audience was “dazzled” by it. 

Max Bruch’s "Violin Concerto No.1" is one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire, and we were fortunate to have Fiona Shea  perform it. Fiona is an up-and-coming star who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree at the Colburn Conservatory, where she studies with Professor Robert Lipsett. Her performance of the “Bruch” was magnificent in every aspect. She received a standing ovation, with cheering, whistling and thunderous applause. Those who had the privilege of hearing her perform are truly fortunate because one day, when she is famous, they can say, “I saw Fiona Shea perform with the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra.” 

Following a 15 minute intermission, where the concertgoers were heard praising the conductor, the orchestra and especially the soloist, they returned to their seats for the finale, the "Inaugural Performance" of James Domine’s,"Violin Concerto #2 in B-minor." Performed by Ms. Shea, the work was well received by the audience who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation for its composer, the soloist and the musicians of the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. Kudos to everyone who helped make it a magical evening of glorious music!

FYI, you can find Maestro Domine's Violin Concerto on his YouTube channel.

SFVSO Summer Concert 2021 - A Stellar Performance Under the Stars!

Wednesday evening, August 11, 2021, saw the return of the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra for the first time since January 2019, bringing much happiness to Maestro James Domine, the musicians, and the music lovers who came out in force once again to hear, “Great Music Close to Home.” 

The SFV Orchestra’s annual “Concert in the Park: A Stellar Performance Under the Stars” at the Israeli-American Council Shepher Community Center in Woodland Hills, was everything it promised to be. The IAC graciously sponsored the event, providing rehearsal space inside the center, while the actual concert was performed outdoors in the park. It was a lovely setting for a magical evening of classical music composed by Verdi, Offenbach, Bizet, Saint-Saens and Strauss. Also featured on the program was a new medley of Cole Porter songs arranged and orchestrated by SFVSO violinist Cary Belling, followed by George Gershwin’s, “Summertime,” with music director James Domine's “Summer Solstice” concluding the program. 

This concert featured the auspicious debut performance of vocalist Annie Miller singing the Cole Porter, Gershwin and Domine pieces. Annie was joined by the audience in singing “Summer Solstice” and, at the conclusion, they stood and applauded heartily. It was a delightful summer evening of musical magic. 

The SFVSO is planning concerts for September 26th, October 16th, and December 4th of this year. Please visit www.sfvsymphony for more information.