Monday, December 10, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on January 24th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 46

Preserving perfection

The 'Schoolhouse Music Evenings' continues for its 32nd year of quality chamber music


Chamber music depends on the space in which it is performed. A good room with the right acoustics can make a performance magical. Just such a space was the inspiration for the “Schoolhouse Music Evenings,” a concert series founded by Rose Knoles in 1981 when she was a teacher at Dunn School in Los Olivos.

The first concert of the “Schoolhouse Music Evenings” series will feature a chamber trio made up of French horn player Sarah Bach, woodwind player Damon Zick, and pianist Robert Edward Thies (pictured).

“Our principal at the time, he had come from the East Coast, he saw this old schoolhouse built in the 1890s that was in Buellton at the time,” Knoles said. “He said, ‘I want this on campus, and I want a chamber music series.’”

Knoles, who was teaching music at the boarding school at the time, was no stranger to chamber music, being a skilled musician herself.

“I said to him, ‘Do you realize how hard a chamber music series is?’” she remembered. “I knew to make anything work it had to be good, so I called my friends and said ‘Help!’”

A graduate of the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, Knoles had plenty of high-caliber musician friends to call on.

“I got excellent performers from UOP and USC, and I had just amazing performers here,” she said. “They would come and perform for the kids at Dunn in the afternoon, and then we would have a concert at night in the schoolhouse with the kids ushering.”

With its perfectly seasoned space for chamber concerts, the “Schoolhouse Music Evenings” started gaining in popularity with each performance.

Music master:
Professor, pianist, and Bosendorfer artist Sergio Gallo will be performing the second concert of the “Schoolhouse Music Evenings” in Los Olivos.

“The next time the musicians would come back, they would bring their friends who would tell their friends,” Knoles said. “It was really quite amazing; it has grown so much.”

Now in its 32nd year, the “Schoolhouse Music Evenings” series has since moved locations. Knoles, who is now the organist and choir director at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, moved the music to the church in the interest of allowing more people to enjoy chamber music in a fine room.

“There is nothing like chamber music in a smaller area,” she said. “St. Mark’s’ acoustics are just amazing, and you can fit a good amount of people in there without losing the chamber music quality.”

The first concert of the series will feature a trio of high-caliber musicians. French horn player Sarah Bach, woodwind player Damon Zick, and pianist Robert Edward Thies will be collaborating on a number of works that aren’t typical classical fare. Most of their program was composed during the 20th century by a variety of composers, from Leonard Bernstein to Verne Reynolds.

Bach and Zick are married and live together in Burbank. Bach performs with the Crown City Brass Quintet and many orchestras and symphonies including the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara symphonies. Zick is a writer of original music himself, dealing mostly in the idiom of jazz, a style that will also be included in the upcoming concert. Thies is a local pianist who has pages of international accolades and will be joining the pair to round out the chamber sound.

But the concert series doesn’t end there. Knoles scheduled three concerts for the series this year. The next show, slated for Feb. 8, will feature the solo piano of Sergio Gallo, a music professor who will be flying in from Georgia.

“We are going to be having a Bosendorfer playing this one,” Knoles said. “I wanted to have some solo piano because we have a wonderful 100-year-old Steinway B that has been very well preserved.”

The last concert of the season will include a string duo featuring cellist John Sant’Ambrogio and guitarist Mak Grgic on March 1.

Sounds of the schoolhouse
The St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church will be host to the 32nd annual “Schoolhouse Music Evenings” concert series, including a concert featuring the trio of Sarah Bach, Damon Zick, and Robert Edward Thies on Jan. 25. Pianist Sergio Gallo performs Feb. 8, and cellist John Sant’Ambrogio plays with guitarist Mak Grgic on March 1. All concerts are at 7:30 p.m. at the church at 2901 Nojoqui Ave., Los Olivos. Cost is $20, $15 in advance. More info: 688-4454,, or

“Ambrogio is teaching at Westmont, and his love right now is for helping young artists,” she said. “He is playing with Mak Grgic, who is getting his doctorate at USC.”

All three concerts will feature a wide range of music with a potent amount of skill. The series has asserted itself over the years as being a bastion for classical music in a small town.

“In all the years I’ve asked people to play, I have only had one person say no,” Knoles said, “and, to me, it means the really fine artist will try and make their music for all people, not just the people in the big cities.”

A little bit country

The  Chumash Casino Resort presents country singer Johnny Lee performing live on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. at Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 East Highway 246, Santa Ynez. Tickets cost $25 to $35. More info: 1-800-CHUMASH or

Going tropical

The Lions Peak Vineyards Tasting Room presents Jon Stephen Tropical Brazilian Guitar live on Jan. 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Lions Peak Vineyards Tasting Room, 1659 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang. More info: 693-5466 or

Sharing art

Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic event on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 East Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.

Maverick music

The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including the country music of the Hollywood Hillbillies on Jan. 25 and 26 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with DJ Totem” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring the Hollywood Hillbillies is Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or

Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at

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