Labor Day approaches, the time that always feels like the official end of summer. The Anderson Valley hills are golden as only Californian hills can be, the naked ladies are crowding the wooden fence lines and school is about to start.
This time heralds also the beginning of the new Symphony of the Redwoods season — our 31st. If it takes a village to raise a child, it usually takes a major city to support a symphony orchestra, and even community orchestras, like ours, are usually supported by a larger population than that of the Mendocino Coast. We are incredibly lucky to have an orchestra of this standard performing the classical repertoire right here in Fort Bragg.
The first concert of the season is an event that may not be familiar to the general public: this is a schools’ concert, held this year on Friday, September 26, in Cotton Auditorium. The orchestra will be conducted on this occasion by Les Pfutzenreuter, conductor of the Ukiah Symphony. There will be three performances that day, and students will be bused in from schools in Mendocino and Fort Bragg. We have always felt bringing music to young people to be an important part of the symphony’s mission; but nowadays, with band and chorus programs woefully reduced or cut from the curriculum entirely, it’s even more important to make sure that our kids are exposed to live orchestral music.
Meanwhile, the first regular concert of the season is on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon November 15 and 16. The orchestra will be joined in the second half of the program by our friends in the Community Chorus, who will be singing a selection of some of your favorite opera choruses. These are tunes that you will almost certainly know and love – you’ll be humming as you leave the concert hall!
The first half of the program opens with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture #3. Two hundred years ago in Vienna, May 23, 1814, Ludwig van Beethoven’s opera Fidelio was performed with the composer conducting. The 17 year old Franz Schubert was in the audience, having sold his school books to obtain a ticket. The overture to the opera had undergone a number of revisions, and the final version which was performed on that day was a slightly lighter version of previous versions. Leonore No 3, which opens the Symphony of the Redwoods 2014 season, starts out in a slow, serious mood (befitting the story of the opera: a man called Florestan is unjustly being held in prison), but ends triumphantly in true heroic Beethoven style.