Wow! You have never seen so many school age kids at a symphony concert! For its Saturday-evening concert at Sherwood Hall, the Monterey Symphony had arranged some special ticket pricing to attract young students, and they came in droves. Of course someone had to bring them, so there were also a lot of parents and an assortment of school teachers. Was this a “pops” type concert aimed at young audiences with Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” on the program. Absolutely not, for this was a grown up program, very much the standard fare in the Monterey Symphony’s 2007-2008 season, and consisted of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” Rodrigo’s Concierto de ArÃ¡njuez and Poulenc’s Â Sinfonietta. Maestro Max Bragado-Darman, was on the podium for the occasion.
It was a long program, and although I observed a lot of fidgety kids during the Copland and the Poulenc (a few of the very youngest left after intermission), during the Rodrigo guitar concerto, these kids were really plugged in and making a connection. The soloist for this concert was the charismatic guitarist Angel Romero (in his family everybody plays the guitar), and he was absolutely on the top of his form. The Rodrigo Concierto de ArÃ¡njuez is the most famous guitar concerto ever written, and Saturday evening’s performance by Romero showed why. Its lovely tunes, exciting passages and lots of virtuoso Spanish guitar effects were absolutely winning. The great moment in this concerto is the extraordinary Adagio second movement where Romero’s gorgeously shaped and emotionally charged melodies could have wrung tears from a stone. After a prolonged standing ovation (and lots of “olÃ©’s”), Romero returned to the stage and honored us with one encore, a Fantasia written by his father, Celedonia Romero. This was as fascinating to watch as it was to listen to, for Romero trotted out every guitar virtuoso trick in the books – he played virtuoso riffs with either hand alternately (sometimes strumming the guitar way up high on the finger board), and he thumped with his fingers on the body of the guitar in Flamenco style. It was a knockout!
This concert will be broadcast on KUSP 88.98 FM on Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 11:00 a.m.