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Peninsula Symphony Review – Grand Opening at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center

By Barbara Keer

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The Peninsula Symphony began 2014 with its first performance at the newly opened San Mateo Performing Arts Center located next to San Mateo High School. It seats 1600 and has the largest stage between San Francisco and San Jose. All seats offer unobstructed views of the stage. Plenty of free parking is available for patrons. Handicapped seating is available.

 

A look at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center Website reveals a wide range of performances – something for everyone. I was fortunate to be visiting Palo Alto for an extended length of time (from cold Chicago) so that I was one of the lucky audience members at what looked to me like a “love fest”.  The audience loved the performance and the performers loved the audience and everyone loved the “new” auditorium.  I could not fully appreciate what a joy this new auditorium is, but my seatmate told me that the old seats were very uncomfortable.  I agreed with her assessment that the new seats are very comfortable.  The auditorium is lovely and the acoustics are very good.

I attended the preconcert discussion and was impressed with what I learned about the Peninsula Symphony. Since 1949 the mission of the Peninsula Symphony has been to enrich the lives of people in our community with inspiring, innovative, high-quality musical presentations at affordable prices, and to promote music education through engaging programs for children and adults.

 

The current conductor Mitchell Sardou Klein has held his position for 29 years during which the Peninsula Symphony grew from a grassroots ensemble to a polished 90-plus member orchestra of well-trained community musicians. The Peninsula Youth Orchestra was established in the spring of 1997, with Mitchell Sardou Klein serving as the Music Director.

 

The orchestra produced rich, full tones that combined into easy listening in the George Gershwin numbers, Overture to Girl Crazy, Rhapsody in Blue, Overture to Strike Up the Band and also in I left My Heart in San Francisco (a shout out to the 49ers-sob!)  This night honored Jazz, the only great art form that is uniquely American.  It moved from Gershwin, who essentially started it all at a concert called “An Experiment in Modern Music” in 1924 when Rhapsody in Blue was performed. The first time this was played it wasn’t written down so no one really know how it sounded. This night in San Mateo, a night of Grand Openings, paid tribute to Dave Brubeck with three of his compositions, The Duke, Koto Song and Blue Rondo a la Turk offered with embellishments by Bay Area musicians.

 

My husband and I were delighted to be at this tribute. The first time we heard Dave Brubeck was when he was playing in a small bar in Los Angeles early in his career. The last time we heard him play was his 88th birthday when he celebrated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

 

Dave Brubeck’s legacy seemed alive and well in the hands of four local Jazz musicians who played some pieces on their own. It is Taylor Eigsti, piano, that Dave Brubeck mentored late in his career and said, “He’s the most amazing talent I’ve ever come across.  Remember him.”  We will.  He played several of his own very beautiful compositions including “The Unspoken”.  Taylor described his involvement with the Brubeck family and said he felt as though Dave Brubeck was like a grandfather and that he was a wonderful person.  Dayna Stephens’s piece, “Haden’s Largo” was also noteworthy. Dayna is amazing and had the stage filled with all kinds of saxophones, each one sounding better than the last when Dayna played them.

 

The audience was thrilled and rose to their feet to show their appreciation several times.  It was a terrific night and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy it.  The next time around, we leave to you when some other aspects of Jazz will be reveled.

Photos: Rick Gilbert unless otherwise noted.

 

Peninsula Symphony

146 Main Street, Suite 102 
Los Altos, California 94022
Telephone: 650-941-5291
Fax 650-941-5292

[email protected]

 

 

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From the Peninsula Symphony website “The start of the Peninsula Symphony was like the confluence of three streams: two distinct musical ensembles (the Sequoia Symphony & the Peninsula Symphony), and one conductor, Russian-born violinist/conductor Aaron Sten, joined forces in 1949. In that very first year, many features were established which were to become trademarks of the Peninsula Symphony: four concerts in October, January, March, and May; a balanced musical program featuring first-class guest artists; an attractive concert program with informative notes; and strong support from the community. In those first years, Maestro Aaron Sten also founded the California Youth Symphony, and began the tradition of incorporating outstanding young musicians into Peninsula Symphony performances”.

 

Note:  You can see Taylor Eigsti on March 1st as a special guest at:

 

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Special Guest Taylor Eigsti

Saturday, March 1, 2014
Time: 3 - 4:30pm

Theatre on San Pedro Square
29 North San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA 95110

Tickets: $25 advance/$27 door
http://sanjosejazz.org/winter-fest-tickets

Note:

Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz walked away from a high-powered academic career in Artificial Intelligence to play music full time. And jazz audiences are richer for it, falling in love with his “warm, generous tone, impeccably developed solos and infectious performance energy” (SF Chronicle).  In this concert Schwartz leads his Quintet, featuring acclaimed guest pianist Taylor Eigsti, through tunes from his album Flash Mob to be released January 28.

and

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Special Guest Taylor Eigsti

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pacifica Performances - Pacifica, CA

Anton Schwartz Quintet

CD Release!

 

Note:

Tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz walked away from a high-powered academic career in Artificial Intelligence to play music full time. And jazz audiences are richer for it, falling in love with his “warm, generous tone, impeccably developed solos and infectious performance energy” (SF Chronicle).  In this concert Schwartz leads his Quintet, featuring acclaimed guest pianist Taylor Eigsti, through tunes from his album Flash Mob to be released January 28.

 

 

 

Published on Jan 20, 2014

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