Sunday, November 06, 2011

New Century Tour Kick-Off

NCCO NapkinThe extroverted New Century Chamber Orchestra starts their 2nd East Coast tour next week, stopping in Massachusetts & New Jersey & ending at Symphony Space in New York. Saturday night was their tour kick-off concert at Herbst Theatre. To help celebrate, they treated the audience to prosecco in the lobby beforehand. Members of the orchestra wore bright red accessories to accent their black concert dress. Leader Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg addressed the audience, though she admitted that she did not know what to say. She thanked the board & praised the ensemble, boasting, "We even play repertoire we should not play!" She also joked that the Rossini Sonata was so hard that the violists refused to play it.

The Rossini Sonata in G was chirpy. Kristin Zoernig's bass solos were neat & a bit clipped. Violin intonation was scrappy, but the cellos were very together, especially in the zippy last movement. The violas received applause when they joined the ensemble for the Barber Adagio, which sounded secure & forthright. Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg stood surrounded by the 1st stand players for William Bolcolm's Romanza, a small-scale concerto written for her. Each movement has a pleasing dance-like feel, & even though the ensemble is all strings, Mr. Bolcolm gets a lot of colors. The 2nd movement opens with a lugubrious bass solo & has moments of eeriness. The soloist banters briskly with the orchestra in the jaunty final movement. The cellos & violas were very uniform in the Mendelssohn Octet, sounding especially nice at the start of the 2nd movement. The violins were often ragged, & they made a scrambling entrance in the Scherzo. The movement was a rapid skitter, with lots of bowing off the string. The Presto felt rushing & aggressive.

After the 1st encore, Bolcolm's Incinerator Rag, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg came back out, put her hand on her hip & asked, "We have another one. Do you want to hear it?" I didn't catch the composer's name, but I think she said it was a Brazilian song. It featured Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg playing a soaring melodic solo & elicited a standing ovation from the audience.

§ 20th Anniversary Gala: Tour Kick-Off Celebration
New Century Chamber Orchestra
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Music Director

Gioacchino Rossini: Sonata No. 1 in G Major
Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings
William Bolcom: Romanza for Violin and String Orchestra
      Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Felix Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 20

William Bolcolm: Incinerator Rag
Song by Brazilian composer?

Saturday, November 5, 2011, 7pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

§ Members of New Century

Violin I: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (Music Director and Concertmaster), Dawn Harms (Associate Concertmaster), Iris Stone, Karen Sor, Robin Mayforth

Violin II: Candace Guirao (Principal), Deborah Tien Price, Michael Yokas, Michelle Maruyama

Viola: Anna Kruger (Principal), Cassandra Lynne Richburg, Jenny Douglass, Elisabeth Prior

Cello: Susan Babini (Principal), Robin Bonnell, Michelle Djokic, Michael Graham

Bass: Kristin Zoernig (Acting Principal)

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