The Santa Cruz Symphony has once again done what it does best: commemorating world-famous scores and composers from the past, spotlighting distinguished contemporary musicians, and bringing audiences to the edge of their seats with news of exciting music to come.
Their “Fratres” concert last weekend offered vibrant string arrangements led by Music Director Daniel Stewart and performed by the orchestra with a guest appearance by cellist Oliver Herbert. As with all of their classical concerts, the performances highlighted remarkable technical ability, creative ingenuity, and compelling stage presence.
The Symphony’s choices in material and artists define what makes classical music the rich art form that captivates and uplifts audiences. The orchestra established a sense of calm and control with the opening of “Fratres” by Arvo Pärt. Reserved expressiveness, mesmerizing repetitions, and a slow, gradual crescendo emphasized how moments of pause hold as much power as movement, and had listeners spellbound.
Audiences were revitalized from this trance by Franz Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major, featuring 19 year old cellist, Oliver Herbert. It’s no wonder why Herbert performed the challenging concerto with such accomplishment. The San Francisco native is currently studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (Maestro Stewart was also a past graduate of this prestigious school.) Since his concerto debut in 2013, Herbert has been championed for his numerous solo and recital engagements in impressive concert venues and music festivals. He has also garnered a long list of awards, including the first prize and Pablo Casals prize in the 2015 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the second prize in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition.
His stirring variation of Haydn’s concerto with SCS was followed by String Quartet No. 14 “Death and the Maiden” by Franz Schubert, as arranged by Gustav Mahler. The quartet has qualities of emotional intensity, complex transitions, and strenuous tempos, and the collaboration of exceptional string musicians that took center stage for this arrangement delivered it in a striking, natural, and well-timed way.
Audiences also had the pleasure of hearing Maestro Daniel Stewart announce the upcoming 2017-18 Concert Season. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the season will present a wide variety of music, including The Planets by Holst, The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, Bernstein’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances, Beethoven 7, and Mahler 2. Special appearances will include the Mozart Concertante for Violin and Viola featuring InSun Jang and Maestro Stewart on viola.
In addition to a sneak peak of the next season, Stewart also shared the news of superstar pianist Yuja Wang’s surprise return to Santa Cruz stages sooner than expected. Tickets for her June performances are on sale as of this week, but act quickly – they seem to sell out faster than the jaw-dropping speed at which she plays.
Purchase tickets HERE for more memorable programs with the Santa Cruz Symphony.