I figured that a rhetorical question at the beginning of every review wouldn't produce that rhetoric effect we're all looking for when using rhetorical questions...On Saturday, May 10, 2014, (which is the 5th month of the year;) the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Orchestra presented the orchestra finale, directed by Matthew Cmiel. The theme of this significant evening was simply "5". As Maestro Cmiel said in between two of the pieces performed, there was no deeper meaning in the "5" except for that he had a few pieces he really wanted to perform and they all happened to be the 5th. Well, why not make all the pieces on the program the 5th? Yes, yes. That is about it for the deep history of why the concert was themes "5".
Moment of Silliness
Even before the concert began, people who had come early and were skimming through their program were surprised to discover that on the back of the program, where the names of the musicians playing were listed underneath their instrument, the names of the instruments were reduced to all the letters but the first one. For you to further understand what I mean, I will provide for you an example. Instead of Flutes, it said lutes. Or, harp was arp. Now use your imagination to understand what appened to the basses and the bassoons. This phenomenon caused a lot of giggling and passing the news to one another, and I thought that that ended up being a good set-up for the show anticipated.
Guitarist Harry Trump was the very first performer to be spotted up on stage. He performed 5 studios sencillos by Leo Brouwer. This piece was performed with so much vigorous avidity that the listeners found themselves unable to move as Mr. Trump played. Only, I have a strong opinion formed by experience that guitars need to be played through microphones projecting their sound. Sitting quite close to the stage, I had the urge to pump up the volume.
Concerto in G Major no 5 for strings by Antonio Vivaldi was a fascinating experience for the audience and the performers. Maestro Cmiel announced before the piece was performed that there would be some improvisation in the piece. This excited the listener and everyone was looking forward to it. I think that it is impressive that they did an improvisation and I'm honored to have heard that piece performed in such a peerless way.
Beethoven's Symphony 5 performed with robustness and enthusiasm. Maestro Cmiel presented the audience with a question asking people who have never heard this piece performed live to raise their hands. Almost half the audience raised their hands. Considering this statistic, the performance opened their eyes to how wonderful this piece is when performed live. As Maestro Cmiel correctly stated before the piece was performed,
"These might be the most famous eight notes,"
this part of the program was what the audience were humming as they walked to their cars in the parking lot when the concert was over. What added to the effect was that they were performing it memorized. How awesome is that? (Okay, here go the rhetorical questions.) It did not state this information anywhere on the program, but as an insider I can tell you.
Symphony 5 II. Allegretto by Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky was very well performed and in a very professional manner. The emotions were not only seeping out of Maestro Cmiel, but out of the musicians playing as well. The piece brought lots of enjoyment and excitement to the listeners.
In correspondence to last night's theme, Allegretto from Shostakovich's 5 Symphony was performed. Maestro Cmiel said that Dmitri Shostakovich was completely anti-Stalin, sending powerful messages through his music. I think that it is important to mention that Shostakovich was awarded with 5 State Stalin Prizes throughout his life. Are you still sure that there is no magical power in the number five?
Seht Die Sonne (Behold! The Sun) (Tone Poem 5) III. The setting of the sun by Magnus Lindberg was a stunning conclusion to the concert. It was a tiny bit unexpected, despite the fact that Maestro Cmiel warning the listeners that the piece was modern a had some weirdness in it. At first, when Maestro Cmiel said that there was going to be weirdness, I was worried that this piece was going to be one of those awkwardly dissonant just-because-the-composer-could pieces that hardly anyone likes. But this piece, regardless of having dissonant moments, was very beautiful in its own unique way. In the way it was performed, I could see the sun setting. And since Maestro Cmiel said that Lindberg had visioned whales in the sea over which the sun was setting, I could actually see them. I don't know if I saw them where Lindberg had wanted them to be, but I definitely have an approximate evaluation of what Lindberg meant with every single note in this piece.
In the middle of the concert, Matthew Cmiel and SOTA Band director Brad Hogarth stood onstage and presented the wonderful Julie Glantz and fabulous Colleen Ivie with flowers. I thought that this was a beautiful moment of thanking the people that do so many things for the school. And who knows where we would be if they didn't do them? Also, after Matthew Cmiel congratulated all of his seniors and announced where each one was going for future studies, he was presented with a present from the seniors. You know what it was? Yes! A fruitbasket!
Flutes: Jon Lam, Lars Mayrand, Lina Miller, Doreen Pacini, Hansen Wu.
Oboe: Dario Cadoppi
Clarinet: Sarah Evenson, Katalyn Lui, Megan Masters, Rain Talosig, Eric Wong
Bassoon: Will Roach
French Horn: Robert Dubrov, Leo Page-Blau, Kyle Peters, James Ravanal, Avery Roth-Hawthorne
Trumpet: Jordan Lee, Janis Stuurman
Trombone: Lonnol Bay, Kieran Briden, Hanne Williams-Baron, Oscar Yau
Tuba: Eitan Spiegel, Elliot Young
Percussion: Simon Clinton, Jerome Herrera, Redger Parker, Jacob Prince, Sachiel Rosen, Trent Tanzi
Harp: Lily Atkinson
Violin: Lily Atkinson, Steohanie Blanco, Malia Bow, Arthur Chan, Anna Chen, Raina Christeson, Hanna Friedlander, Olga Corcilius, Shaleah Feinstein, Anju Goto, Theo Haber, Leah Leiner, Kayana Leung, Jingzai Li, Miguel Mercado, Kelly Ou-Yang, Kossette Rodriquez, Joan Shalit, Nasia Stevenson, Charles Thollander, Brigette Wang, Isabella Yuen, Yudong Zhao
Viola: Gabriel Anguiano, Raphael Chinn, Crystal Ho, Christine Lee, Serena Lu, Leo Polonsky, Sydney Van Bueren, Madison Watts, Perris Yee, Laila Zaidi
Cello: Marc Armitano, Christine Blair, Samantha Do, Oliver Herbert, Jesse Jenks, Elizbeth Jones, Isaac Rosales, Federico Strand Ramirez, Simone Tatum, Aaron Wolff
Bass: Kyle Burke, Suzy Chun, Haley Conroy, Anthony Corona, Isabel Dobrev, Alex Farrell, Ema Jordan, Max Nesbet, Josh Potolo, Jacob Sobelman, Nate Spielman, Wesley Yamanoha.
Lighting Design: Gabe Pothier
Lighting Technician: Will Rodriguez
Stage Manager: Reuben Kessler