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.
Conductor Max Bragado-Darman led the Monterey Symphony in a concert of three popular masterpieces last night at Sunset Center in Carmel, and, not surprisingly, it was a great success with each work winning a rousing standing ovation. 2019-2020 will be the last season for retiring conductor Bragado-Darman, and he will be missed.
The concert began with one of Richard Wagner’s masterpieces, the Overture to his opera The Flying Dutchman. The tale of a cursed ship that can never make port and is doomed to wander the seas forever is effectively set to music by Wagner and continues to fascinate audiences today as much as it did at its premiere in Dresden in 1843. Last night the Monterey Symphony wowed us with its powerful performance that featured a full compliment of strings, woodwinds, brass, trombones, bassoons, harp and percussion, plus the strong direction from Bragado-Darman.
It was all about color yesterday afternoon at the Carl Cherry Foundation as friends and fans attended a joint gallery display by artists Lucas Blok and Mel Prest. Both artists employ acrylic in their creations of large canvases, but their individual artistic outlook has led them in different, yet complimentary directions. Blok specializes in bold rectilinear designs imposed on large areas of vivid colors that tease the mind and envelop us in vibrant strong colors enclosed in both hard and soft edged rectangles. Although many of Blok’s paintings are in a gigantic scale with linear lengths approaching 16 to 20 feet wide, his paintings on display yesterday were smaller in scale — partly because the Carl Cherry Gallery has smaller wall spaces lending itself to smaller paintings.
San Francisco artist Mel Prest also employs acrylic in her very personal use of color, line and perspective to create muted and subtle images on large panels that can draw you into each one in an hypnotic way that compels your eye to roam in each direction to interact with the more intimate details of movement of lines — sometimes linear, and sometimes diagonal — while always retaining more distant overall effect. This is my first acquaintance with Mel Prest’s artistry, and I found that her warm personality is a complimentary aspect that graces and enhances her artistic aura.
We hope there will be future showings by these artists, individually and jointly. They both have found compelling ways to engage the minds and moods of those exposed to their artistry.
The audience trickled in to the hustle and bustle of the dynamite combo warming up for the Monterey Peninsula Voices program on Sunday, May 12, at the Santa Catalina High School auditorium. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware, just the warm up was an exciting predictor of what was to come. These 100+ voices in their terrific themed tee shirts showed unflagging enthusiasm and delight to be part of this group. As a Road Trip theme might be imagined, Boulware has chosen a wealth of location songs stretching from I Left My Heart in San Franciscoto Boy From New York City with stops in between along Route 66. John Lett and Robin Jepsen soloed more than ably in Tuxedo Junction. As with many of these familiar songs the recording artist who made it famous is often more remembered than the actual composer. Erskine Hawkins wrote this piece made popular by numerous big bands as well as soloists. Hard to imagine Lynard Skynard being responsible for Sweet Home Alabama, but with the killer guitar work of Noah Reeves, the singers brought it home. Another popular song, Georgia On My Mind, is mostly remembered for the Ray Charles version. Phil Price not only soloed, but also provided his own guitar accompaniment. Next up, the tenors and basses gave a hearty treatment of Westward Ho! from the 1935 film of the same name. Actually moving eastward, Diane Ehlers gave Glen Campbell a run for his money with her version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix supported with a prerecorded backup.
Talk about musical comfort food for the soul, Camerata Singers, under the direction of John Koza, Artistic Director and Conductor, presented Wrapped In Song. Audience members were virtually wrapped in a cocoon of not only familiar choral works but also some newer versions of familiar texts. The multi talented George Peterson demonstrated his more than nimble fingers accompanying Dan Forrest’s The Music of Living to start off the program. This accompaniment is a definite “wake-up” call for the singers to maintain balance. The more familiar The Eyes of All Wait Upon Me by Jean Berger followed in a gentler mood. Eric Whitacre used the poetry of Octavio Paz for his setting of A Boy and a Girl. Such poignancy of the image of young love savoring their togetherness stretched out on the grass, stretched out on a beach, until stretched out underground keenly touched the audience’s heart. The delightful premise and novelty of Anders Edenroth’s I sing, You Sing, features the alto section. Koza explained the set up of SATB music with the sopranos getting the melody, basses the foundation and usual root of chord, tenors the color and altos “whatever is left” harmonically. This alto section more than held their own getting to sing more than the three or four notes often assigned to the section.