Conductor Daniel Stewart
On Sunday, May 10 at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts, Director Daniel Stewart presented the final concert of the 2014-15 season. Under the capable baton of Maestro Stewart the “Finale” was a show of pure musical brilliance! The works performed were Marche pour la Ceremonie des Turcs (1670) by Jean-Baptiste (1632-1687); O Magnum Mysterium (1572) by Tomas Luis De Victoria (1548-1611) featuring the Cabrillo Symphonic Choir directed by Cheryl Anderson; Io t’abbraccio by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), sung by the highly talented soprano diva Nadine Sierra and tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. The work was performed in loving memory of Jane Orzel, principal bassonist with the Santa Cruz Symphony for many years. The program concluded with Carmina Burana (1936) by Carl Orff (1895-1982).
The concert began with the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus entering the concert hall from the rear and processioning down both main aisles showering the audience with festive, colorful flower petals in impressive carnival fashion. Dancing along to the orchestral march heavily accented by percussive flare, they made their way to the stage and positioned themselves behind the orchestra.
Highly talented and attractive soprano Nadine Sierra, wearing a strikingly beautiful floor-length gold and black dress, and tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo simply delighted the audience with a magnificent duet sung to absolute perfection. After just a moment of hearing Ms. Sierra it became readily apparent why she was the youngest winner of both the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Marilyn Horn Foundation Vocal Competition. Both singers have appeared with the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera. High praise music also be given to baritone John Moore, who has also performed with the Metropolitan, Seattle, Portland and Atlanta Opera Companies. These superb vocal artista were made available through the good offices of Maestro Stewart as a rare and most special added treat.
The powerful theatrical opening and overall staging of Carmina Burana effectively provided the splendid dialogue between orchestra, chorus and three amazing soloists that continued to permeate the work flawlessly. Maestro Stewart astutely maintained orchestral dynamic balance that blended ever so beautifully with Ms. Sierra’s compelling lyricism throughout her beautiful vocal range. And to be sure this statement also applies to tenor Costanzo and baritone Moore, whose solos were of the very highest artistic quality! If Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has ever been performed and sung this well, it is a well-kept secret!
It is also no secret that the members of the Santa Cruz Symphony have the utmost respect for Stewart as demonstrated by the fact that they have never sounded this well in the past and speak openly of their admiration for the maestro. The audience fully agreed with this afternoon’s innovative concert as the charismatic Stewart once again made his congratulator round of appreciation through the ranks of the inspired orchestra. To be sure, we are looking forward to the 2015-2016 concert Season.