Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Up-Coming: New Century Chamber Orchestra

On Tuesday, the New Century Chamber Orchestra had an open rehearsal for the 1st concert of their 20th anniversary season. I sat in on about half an hour & saw them work on Bloch's Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra and Piano, which replaces Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste on the originally announced program. The group is conductorless, & there is a lot of starting, stopping & discussion among all the members. Though decisions are generally reached by consensus, I was surprised to see leader Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg veto outright a suggestion from the bassist. Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg is a very physical performer & never goes less than all-out. Sometimes she rose out of her seat while playing. The Bloch piece was new to me, & it is a super-accessible romp that everyone seems to have a great time playing. The Carmina Burana-like program, which also includes the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto & Shchedrin's percussion-heavy Carmen Suite, should delight NCCO's audience.

Following the rehearsal I was present at a press conference with Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg, who was unstinting in her praise of the ensemble's performances & proud of its continued success, despite the hard times that have affected other orchestras. Noting that NCCO is “an ensemble that has to be seen as well as heard,” she announced the release of a DVD for next spring. She also thinks they should have a bigger presense on YouTube. An up-coming piece from Ellen Zwilich based on Commedia dell'Arte will be “very visual” & a lot of a fun. Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg also shared her ambition to someday have the orchestra perform Mahler 4.

The meeting started with all the attendeess introducing themselves, but I actually arrived late & missed this part, prompting Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg to blurt out, “Who are you?” as soon as I came in.

§ Carmen Revisited
New Century Chamber Orchestra

Ernest Bloch: Concerto Grosso No. 1 with Piano Obbligato
Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Stuart Canin, violin
Rodion Shchedrin: Carmen Suite

Thursday, September 22, 2011, 8pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Friday, September 23, 2011, 8pm, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto
Saturday, September 24, 2011, 8pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Sunday, September 25, 2011, 5pm, Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael

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