Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 7
Season of triumph: The Santa Maria Philharmonic's first season with Maestro Michael Nowak comes to a close on April 22
By JOE PAYNE
The Santa Maria Philharmonic Society’s decision to hire on Michael Nowak as its new music director and conductor was met with immediate enthusiasm from local classical music lovers.
Now, at the end of his first season directing the Philharmonic Orchestra and programing concerts, Nowak said he is “delighted with the way things have gone so far.” The last concert of the season happens on April 22 with the program titled The Bold and the Beautiful.
“There’s a musical kind of unity that I am looking for that I think the orchestra is ready to have,” he said. “The concerts have been exciting with a nice variety of music. The audiences are growing, which is good to see, and the enthusiasm in the town is building, which I’m very happy about.”
It takes some time for an orchestra and new maestro to get to know each other, Nowak explained, but every concert so far has led to more familiarity and comfort. Even from day one, the orchestra delivered a “high level of performance,” he said, which he has seen expand and grow.
Another chance for the Philharmonic to grow its service to the community comes with the April 22 concert. Akin to a practice Nowak upheld while he directed the San Luis Obispo Symphony, a portion of the Philharmonic’s rehearsal the day of the concert will be open to local school children for free. This allows young people to observe how a professional orchestra works and prepares for a concert, Nowak said.
“I think it’s always important to have young people come to see what a symphony orchestra is all about,” he said. “Every person has to have that first moment when they go to see a symphony orchestra. It’s difficult because most schools don’t have symphony orchestra programs anymore, so this is a kind of rudimentary beginning of communication with those folks.”
The portion of the rehearsal open to local students will include Nowak and the orchestra’s preparation of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67.”
Nowak’s decision to begin supplementing local students’ music education is part of a long game he hopes to play in Santa Maria. Afterschool programs like string ensembles, and eventually a youth orchestra, would be a great addition to the valley’s youth activities, he said.
“We can start building a community that thinks more artistically,” he said. “Santa Maria can be that sort of hub of arts on the Central Coast if it puts the effort into it.”
He also hopes to see a concert hall eventually built in town to serve as a cultural “focal point” for not just the Philharmonic but for music and performance arts in general.
“Let’s build a concert hall, let’s make that the gem of our community,” he said. “Let’s make that the musical temple where we share the great masterworks with our community.”
That’s why programming pieces like Beethoven’s fifth symphony and other works featured in the April 22 concert—Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn”—is important. Providing local listeners with performances of beloved pieces is just as important as elevating lesser-known works.
And composers like Beethoven and Brahms are ideal to close out a season, Nowak said, as they are artists whose works have “stood the test of time.”
“I wanted to make sure that we brought pieces that are familiar to our audience or to the community to draw them in, so that they would come and hear these pieces,” he said. “And everyone knows Beethoven’s fifth, it’s those four notes: ‘Buh buh buh bah,’ but it’s more than that.
“It goes on and on and has a much bigger story besides that, and does end very triumphantly,” he added. “And I think that’s a good way to end a season, on a triumphant note.”
Managing Editor Joe Payne includes Beethoven in his top three B’s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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