The MPC Orchestra we heard last night at the MPC Theatre is a living testament to Conductor David Dally’s thirty odd years of successfully transforming a small Monday-Evening String Class into a thriving community orchestra that presents two major concerts every year. Yes, there are a few MPC students among the orchestra players, but there are also many distinguished local musicians from our community — among them are clarinetist Erica Horn, oboist Claire Horn, percussionist Greg Bullock, trombonist Suzanne Mudge, cellist (and former violinist) Vernon Brown, tuba player Jim Paoletti, and many others who regularly appear with other distinguished orchestra ensembles during the concert year.
Opening the concert was a performance of a work I don’t believe I have ever heard before — the Concerto for Violin and Viola by Max Bruch. The two soloists are students at York School in Monterey, violinist Nathan Nguyen (pronounced “Winn”), and violist Daisy Swanson. Both students, who study with David Dally, have accumulated many honors in local and state competitions. They performed the Bruch Concerto with an elegant stylistic authority and impressive technical mastery.
Also a featured soloist on the program was pianist Adam Petrocelli, who had previously in 2016 performed the Saint-Saëns Second Concerto with the MPC Orchestra. Petrocelli was returning on this occasion to perform Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, a mighty and challenging work that met its match in Petrocelli’s supersized and powerful performance. Petrocelli not only excelled with his virtuosity, but also surprised us with his rendering of tender moments in the first movement’s development section and his gorgeous cantabile playing and shaping of phrases in the glorious Adagio second movement.
The major work on the program was the Symphony No. 5 by Tchaikovsky. This great symphony never ceases to enthrall audiences throughout its fifty-minute duration and so it did on this occasion. All the beautiful themes and magic moments were there — one of the most memorable of these was the fabulous horn solo in the Andante cantabile second movement. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t tell whether the horn player was Jeff Fowler or John Orzel, so I am going to give them both credit for some truly beautiful playing. Actually, there were many other beautiful solos, and lots of great climatic moments. It is very much to David Dally’s credit that he can inspire so many instrumental players from our community to give their all in such a demanding work.
The audience gave the orchestra a rousing standing ovation, and conductor Dally called for each of the soloists to rise and be recognized. Kudos to all the players, the soloists and to Maestro David Dally.