San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra - A Relaxed Evening 

My adventure with the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra began on Saturday the first –  April Fool's Day.

Nothing about this evening in North Hollywood was a joke. Seriously great music and incredibly talented artists and musicians held court at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.

My guest for the evening was my dearest friend Elpe Villard. Elpe and I have shared wonderful experiences together over the years and music is one of them.

I also brought with me Mark Robinson who listens to KUSC daily. Mark is an early riser and classical music is on the radio when I hit the kitchen every morning. In addition, he’s learning to play the violin.

I am the newest member of the Board of Directors for the SVSO and unlike the other members who were charged with tasks during the event, as the newest member, I had an opportunity to just relax and enjoy the concert this time. Indeed I did.

We are so fortunate to live in a city with such an abundance of extraordinarily talented individuals. Bring them together and collectively they create the sound of music that is familiar, beautiful and classic.

Music that many of us in the audience remember from childhood. The program introduced us to Colburn student Wenlan Jackson, playing a favorite Tchaikovsky, the Violin Concerto in D Major. We also heard Beethoven’s Egmont Oveture and Schumann’s Symphony #4 in D Minor. In addition there were two new short pieces written by the founding Music Director James Domine, one of them a theme written at the request of a colleague of the Director featuring the intricacies of Chinese classical music.

This new music allowed your imagination to take you to mainland China through gardens filled with cherry blossoms at this time of year, coy ponds, Chinese architecture, art and of course this gentle, melodic music. Playing solo piano along with the orchestra was Caitlyn DePrano, a young student who was very lovely.

The orchestra’s musicians were professionals who have storied histories having played with outstanding companies all over the world. Their experience and expertise shines under the direction of Maestro Domine.

The evening and conversations by the Director felt comfortable and relaxed giving those new to the classics an opportunity to enjoy the performance because his nature and inviting warmth made you feel as though we were guests that he knew personally as well as the theater and stage was an intimate and ideal place for being a part of the experience. 

It was magical. If you would like to hear the classics close to home in an intimate atmosphere of warmth and gentility, where ticket prices are affordable, and the entire family can come out and enjoy a night at a concert check out the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra.

You can order tickets through the orchestra’s website. The last concert of the season is Saturday, May 20th at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.

Dorsay Dujon

Decided to Make It at the Last Minute 

I had left it to the last moment to decide if I could go as there were a few things going on over the weekend, but I am very glad that I made it. This was the third time that I have heard the orchestra and, for me, the best. I thought Wenlan Jackson was magnificent and that the orchestra was much inspired by her wonderful performance, as they were of Caitlyn DePrano playing James Domine's enchanting composition, "China Variations." His appropriately timeless composition, "On the Walls of the Wonderful White Wash Waltz" was so nicely structured and I very much hope it will be played many times in the future. I was not that familiar with Schumann's Symphony No.4, so I was very glad to hear it played, and played so very well.


My review of the April 1 Concert 

On Saturday evening, April 1, 2023, the orchestra, under the baton of Maestro James Domine, performed its third concert of the 2022-23 season at its new home: the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The Maestro came on stage to welcome and thank the audience for their presence, and for their support of the orchestra. 

Following the playing of our National Anthem, 13 year old pianist Caitlyn DePrano performed, "China Variations," a work composed for her by Maestro Domine. She performed wonderfully. and the audience showed its appreciation to the soloist and to the composer with thunderous applause.

Next on the program was Beethoven's "Egmont Overture." This great piece takes the listener through trials, tribulations and tragedy in just eight short minutes, and was part of a new trend of programmatic overtures. Based upon the audience’s applause, cheers, and whistles, this reviewer gives it an A+. 

Then came Wenlan Jackson, violinist extraordinaire, and words simply fail. Her amazing        performance of Tchaikovsky's "Violin Concerto" in D major" left me speechless. The audience actually rose to their feet at the end of the first movement, which is almost unheard of.  This young woman is destined for stardom! 

And kudos to Maestro James Domine and the San Fernando Vallet Symphony Orchestra for an absoutely  superb performance.

Roberta Hoffman

"NON-ESSENTIAL" - A Musician's View 

A young man, young enough to be my son, 
who lives in the Governor’s mansion, 
a man I believed in, 
at one time… 

has deemed me “non-essential,” 
my service to society 

His edict came down from on high 
and my livelihood was gone 

With a stroke of his powerful pen, 
my security, my future 

He picked and he chose, 
eeny meeny miny mo, 
some to thrive, 
and some to go 

-Susan Winsberg, Flutist

Sixties Rock / Orchestral Collaboration 

 In 2004, The 60's rock group Vanilla Fudge sought a musical collaboration with the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. The resulting performance is available as both a CD and DVD from numerous sources. To order from, go to, click on the amazon icon, and search for "When Two Worlds Collide Vanilla Fudge".

Below are excerpts of the reviews of the both the CD and DVD:

CD: "...In 2004 Vanilla Fudge embarked on another ambitious and prestigious project; the live recording of their biggest hits, backed by a full-blown Symphony Orchestra. The San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra was approached because of its reputation for harboring the region’s most outstanding instrumentalists and for performing programs that feature not only the traditional symphonic repertoire, but also adventurous contemporary works. The Orchestra is piloted by Maestro James Domine, a conductor with a powerful drive who is known to both challenge and satisfy the intellect of his demanding audiences. The result; “When Two Worlds Collide”, is another milestone in Vanilla Fudge’s already prestigious list of achievements throughout the lengthy musical career of the band. ..."
(Taken from

DVD: "...The performance takes place in what appears to be some type of large rehearsal studio, or perhaps an empty club, with full concert lighting and sound, and a professional camera crew. The band [Vanilla Fudge] is also backed by the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra, which is what spurred the name of the DVD, When Two Worlds Collide.

This is not your standard concert DVD however, as there is no hint of an audience present, other than what appeared to be a few guests standing behind the orchestra. If there were more people, then they certainly were not shown or heard from. The orchestra is also positioned right in front of the stage, with conductor James Domine standing right in front of the band. An unceremonious fade-to-black occurs between each song performance, and this, along with the lack of any audience, gives the DVD a very strange kind of vibe. It almost feels like you are watching one of those old European music television shows from the 70s, where the band performed live in the TV studio. Maybe that is the vibe they were going for. ..."

(Taken from


Domine Concerto at Last Night's Concert 

Phenomenal performance of Maestro Domine's Violin concerto in G Major played by virtuoso violinist Ruth Bruegger. Ruth's musicality was unceasing throughout the entire three movements of the concerto. The concerto just kept getting better and better each week. It seemed to keep unfolding like a fairy tale as time went on. Ruth's beautiful tone and original musical ideas seemed to never end. I couldn't help smiling stupidly from ear to ear as I heard each movement of the concerto unfold. It felt as if my heart would stop to listen and then start again with each magical phrase. The Romance in the second movement continued to sweep me off my feet as Ruth played that movement like an aria from one of the most beloved Italian operas. Each movement of the concerto has a unique, magical personality. I pictured the ethereal ghost of Violetta in a Zefferelli version of La Traviata during the Romance. But it's not just the Romance that sings like an aria. The entire concerto is an operatic work of art from beginning to end. I can't wait for a recording of this piece to come out. Ruth makes her instrument sing like an angel. Just perfect for Christmas! The concert tonight was a gift from God.

-Roxanna Cordova

Dvorak's New World English Horn Part 

Say, what about that english horn soloist playing the Largo from Dvorak's 9th Symphony at tonite's SFVO rehearsal! What a gorgeous tone. Didn't think it could get better than last week, but it was. Get this: the solo is better than the Herbert Von Karajan recording I heard recently. Just magnificent!

The whole wind section is awsome. As professor Domine stated tonite: "You couldn't ask for better!"

-Roxanna Cordova

Ruth Bruegger interprets Violin Concerto 

I love the Domine Violin Concerto, Professor Domine! Ruth's interpretation is absolutely magnificent. She plays the concerto with such brilliance and breathtaking sweetness. Such a sweet, delicate sound!

When you asked the orchestra to play the third movement like the end of an opera, I had been thinking all along about how much the accompaniment reminds me of Gilbert and Sullivan. Tartini, Viotti, and Sullivan! How amazing is that! Only Domine could make the combination of styles work and Ruth adds all the brilliant toppings on the cake with her interpretation of the Domine Violin Concerto. I'm so happy that you brought the piece back to life after its thirty year nap.

I wish I could see Ruth playing this piece with the orchestra from up close. I am grateful we got to have a preview of the Concerto at the Canoga Bowl on Wednesday night and that we got to hear it during rehearsal tonite. It could be another thirty years before this piece is going to make its way out into the world again. It was a tremendous gift to hear it with the orchestra tonite.

The repertory for the December 1st concert is wonderful. The Domine Violin Concerto in G Major is so unique, so pretty, and comical at times. It is also isn't an easy piece to play, but Ruth makes it sing. She made me smile throughout all three movements with her musical surprises. And there isn't one but TWO cadenzas in the first movement. An Unheard-of Surprise! Domine and Bruegger make an incredible musical team. The San Fernando Valley Symphony is full of incredible musicians. We are so blessed to have them playing for our community.

-Roxanna Cordova

More on Maestro Domine's Music-Updpated 

Oops. I made a boo-boo. It wasn't the Legend of Taliesin that I was listening to in my previous comment. I believe it was the Domine Piano Concerto #3 in A minor. As a matter of fact, it was the third movement of the concerto, the Finale, where (with the inspiration of Maestro Domine and pianist, Roberta Schauer), I placed Cid Charisse as I remembered her in An American in Paris. I have yet to hear (and am looking forward to hearing) the composer's ballet; although the A minor Piano Concerto still reminds me of Tchaikovsky meets Gershwin, meets Samuel Goldwyn. I still got my wish. It's an amazing recording and Roberta Schauer is phenomenal. So far the musicians that i have heard playing Domine's works are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. They have to be. These works are spectacular (for lack of a vocabulary). BTW-- Have you read the excerpts from Domine's, Naked Man? Conspiracies (title of the excerpt), opens with a pristine description of a setting which takes your imagination right to the scene of the crime. (Go to Important Links on the website). It is absolutely hilarious! I love C.J., the classic "30 yr.-old...imbecile [in all of his twisted philosophy and perpetual] arrested state of development," just as the author said we would (Domine, The Naked Man).

-Roxanna Cordova

More on Maestro Domine's Music 

Ok. Here it is. I feel like such an idot! Call me "a psychotropic....." (C.J., Tomahawk); Oh, my Dogue! But if you haven't gone to Professor Domine's website where he lists his compositions and has them available for our enjoyment and musical development, you are losing out! Here I was writing from the perspective of intuition regarding the abundance of characters that are present in his musical compositions (I was thinking about the James Domine, Gothic Symphony #4 in B minor when I wrote my last comment, Hello!). But then I go to the "important links" of the San Fernando Valley Symphony Website, and I find not only all of the composer's works ranging from guitar suites, piano and violin concertos and concertos for viola (and too many others to name here, hence the website!), but I discover a requiem and a ballet that I was hoping he would write! Good Morning America! I imagined the composer writing a ballet in the style of Gershwin even. I got my wish! Here it is!!! You want to imagine an American in Paris and Cid Cherisse dancing to one of our composer's balletic works? Cast her in the Legend of Taliesin! (but listen to his guitar solos first because they are first on the list of compositions and they are just gorgeous! Go to the professor's website and read the composer's synopsis. He will take you through the land of Tolkein and immerse you in a classic cauldron of Dominian humor. I kid you not. Live the fairy tale! Live the dance and let your heart soar! It's all there! A Moral throughout the story. Of course the Maestro is going to have characters gone wild traveling all over his works, musical and literary, both. Classic Dominian Artistry at its best

-Roxanna Cordova


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