Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 37
Going for Baroque: The Santa Maria Philharmonic Society resurrects its season concerts with a small ensemble concert that boasts a big sound
BY JOE PAYNE
Thanks to the concerted efforts of a newly organized and determined Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, the faltering organization was able to continue its concert season after budget limitations that saw the nonprofit organization almost fold earlier this year. “The Beauty of the Baroque” is the society’s first concert of the season, which employs a conservatively sized ensemble that will deliver some of history’s most magnificent music.
To lead the smaller Baroque orchestra, the Philharmonic Society called in the help of local violinist James Riccardo, who will also be playing lead violin for several of the selections. A member of the Philharmonic Orchestra for several years, Riccardo has also been involved with other local ensembles, such as the San Luis Chamber Orchestra.
“This concert is an attempt to keep a great tradition in Santa Maria alive,” he said. “The thought of losing the Santa Maria Philharmonic is just terrifying.”
Riccardo will be conducting the several Baroque-era works, including favorites by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi, arguably the Baroque period’s greatest instrumental composers. Riccardo will be playing soloist violin parts for the concerti, which include Bach’s double violin concerto in D minor, Bach’s Brandenburg Concert No. 4, and Vivaldi’s Autumn and Winter movements of “The Seasons.”
“There are four soloists in this that will be doing the bulk of the heavy lifting,” Riccardo said. “It’s an amazing bunch of musicians who are playing this one; I am so excited for what we are going to put together.”
Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 calls for violin and flute soloists. Sharon Cooper will be playing the violin with flutists Alice McGonigal and Carol Houchens. The Brandenburg No. 4 is one of the more well known of Bach’s concerti due to the beautiful polyphonic melody given to the flutes.
“I think one of the most romantic composers was Bach,” Riccardo said. “Some of his melodies were so soul touching.”
The Baroque period was dominated by counterpoint, when each instrument plays a definite melody, all of which weave together to make a fantastic transforming harmony. Bach is considered the king of counterpoint, but he was influenced by contemporaries like Antonio Vivaldi.
“One of the most famous melodies that Bach ever put in his harpsichord concerto was from a Vivaldi piece,” Riccardo said. “That was possible at that time for Bach to use the melody. It was an honor for Vivaldi to have that melody used, but it would be a lawsuit today.”
The selections by Bach and Vivaldi are what are known as concerto grosso, which involves an ensemble orchestra in two sections: a small group of soloists and the larger orchestra group. The two groups have an evolving interplay throughout the piece. A solo concerto is when an orchestra backs up a solo instrument, a form Bach essentially invented with his harpsichord concerti.
“Most of the concertos Bach wrote were called ‘concertos for many instruments,’” Riccardo explained. “Even Bach’s double violin concerto is the same way: two instruments playing within the orchestra.”
These pieces not only paved the way for the solo concerti of the classical era, but for the symphony itself, which wasn’t en vogue until the era of Haydn almost a century later.
“It’s based on the idea of a harmonic platform,” Riccardo said. “They were meant to be these unique platforms on which to stand and for the soloists to show off what they can do.”
The Santa Maria Philharmonic Orchestra and its respective soloists are preparing the dense and beautiful concert to show off what they can do. Outside of fundraising, organizing, and volunteering their time, the society is packed with amazingly skilled musicians.
“My only hope is that somebody comes to hear this concert and likes it enough to come to the next one,” Riccardo said. “It’s a very loving organization; everybody who is fighting to keep it alive will be sitting on the stage.”
Local singer songwriters Emily Wren and Jacob Cole perform live on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at the D’Vine Wine Bar, 107 West Ocean Ave., Lompoc. Free. More info: 430-8356 or facebook.com.
The Chumash Casino Resort presents the “Macho Gwapito Tour” featuring Roci J. Puno and Ai Ai Delas Alas on Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. Admission cost is $75 to $125. More info: 1-800-CHUMASH or chumashcasino.com.
Standing Sun Wines plays host to blues/soul singer and songwriter Roem Baur performing live on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Standing Sun Wines, 92 2nd St., Buellton. More info: 904-8072 or standingsunwines.com.
Creative Juices features regular live music on the weekends, including Calo live on Nov. 23 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Creative Juices Lounge, 874 Guadalupe St., Guadalupe. More info: 219-0518 or creativejuiceslounge.com.
Root 246 presents live music Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 11 p.m. at Root 246, 420 Alisal Road, Solvang. More info: 264-4726 or email@example.com.
Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic featuring wine, poetry, and live music on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.
Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.