Yes, there is another side of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Festival that in many ways is at least of equal importance as the incredible programming of newly composed modern music. The side in question is education in general and the introduction of what a symphony orchestra is and its importance to youngsters. All of this takes place at the annual Family Concert held in the Civic and it’s FREE of charge! It took place on Sunday, August 6 at 1 pm. By 12:30 pm there was an incredible line of parents and their young family members anxiously waiting for the doors to open. Youngsters ranging from infants to those making the double digit mark filled the Civic beaming with energy and curious expectations.A string quartet consisting of talented Festival musicians sat on stage waiting to start the festivities. Maestro Cristi Macelaru greeted the audience and laid out the afternoon’s program with introductions and then turned matters over to Galen Lemmon, Principal Percussionist who in turn introduced the instruments of the orchestra’s percussion family. After the introduction and a taste of what these instruments sounded like, the remaining families of the orchestra were positioned in various locations of the Civic and groups of children had the opportunity to hear and examine them close up.
I had the distinct pleasure of sitting next to a 4 year old who said she liked the piano and trumpet. After some minutes of hustle, bustle from one instrumental group to the next she returned and said she now liked the clarinet. Great! Soon matters settled down in preparation of the scheduled work — none other than “Pinocchio’s Adventures in Funland” (1999) (West Coast Premier), a wonderful, well-composed work by Michael Gandolfi, one of the featured composers in the Festival. Gandolfi’s musical interpretation conjured up a thoroughly enjoyable, artistic music experience. Maestro Cristi provided the narration in animated, profound classic style with at least four different vocal interpretations to cover Pinocchio, Geppetto, the Coachman and anther puppet — oh and the Donkey, of course. All were most impressive and quite entertaining to the delight of adults and children alike!
This composition is the Pinocchio story based on the adventures of Carlo Collodi’s puppet and consisting of fifteen short scenes performed to perfection by members of the Festival orchestra under the superb direction of Assistant Conductor Gemma New. Maestra New brought out and emphasized the various characters and adventures of Pinocchio’s trials and tribulations by carefully sculpting orchestral textural colors. Her ques were spot on and in perfect balance with Maestro Cristi’s awesome narration and impressive orchestral balance.
Gemma New was born in New Zealand and her musical talents, charisma and conducting abilities have not gone unnoticed. She holds a Master of Music Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Peabody Institute and earned the Dudamel Conducting Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ms. New was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic to take up residence at the Salzburg Music Festival. She is founder of the Lunar Ensemble that recently performed for the National New music Gathering in Baltimore.
Maestra New is the Music Director for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, Resident Conductor for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and serves as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. This season Ms. New will guest conduct the Malmö Symfoni/Orkester (Sweden) and has conducted the Orlando Philharmonic, Long Beach and Miami Symphonies to name but a few. We wish her continued success in her musical conducting endeavors.