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This Year’s Mendocino Music Fest Brought Together Spectacular Talent To Create An Incredible Season

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Another successful Mendocino Music Festival is in the books. This year’s 29th annual event featured musicians from across the state, and provided opportunities for those involved with the Symphony of the Redwoods to shine.

The Festival kicked off on Saturday, July 11, with a concert featuring the Festival Orchestra led by Fest co-founder and our music director, Allen Pollack. The Orchestra is composed of professional instrumentalists from the Bay Area, the Central Valley and Northern California, as well as local musicians from the Symphony of the Redwoods.

Saxophone player and Humboldt State Music graduate, Phillip Sagastume, was one of the outside musicians called to participate this year. “I heard of the Mendocino Music Festival before, but I didn’t know everything it encompassed,” said Sagastume. “Typically you see music fests focusing on specific genres, but this festival brings all of the world’s music together in a way I’ve never experienced before.”

The Orchestra had about two days of rehearsal to perfect three pieces before the debut concert. “I performed in only one piece, but it was the opener for the entire Festival, Shostakovich’s Second Jazz Suite,” Sagastume explained. “Playing with musicians of that caliber was incredible. It was a nice reminder of how playing in ensembles is supposed to feel.”

Following Shostakovish that night, the Orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, featuring violinist Livia Sohn and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 7.

The following Friday, July 17, our executive director, Alex Pierangeli, was tasked with the role of stage manager for the Festival’s production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. At the performance, she was surprised with a last-minute assignment. “I was told I needed to costume one more person, a ‘notary’ for the final scene… during intermission!” Pierangeli said. “Fortunately, I brought along several odds and ends of costumes while I was fitting the singers. I dug up a spare ‘poet shirt’, one with loose sleeves and ruffled cuffs, a lace jabot and a long black velvet jacket. We got him out of his sneakers and into some loafers with buckles, and then squished his jeans up to just below his knees. Voila!”

Read more about Pierangeli’s responsibilities as stage manager here.

The comedic opera played to a crowded house, and was well received by the audience. It was the only fully staged play at this year’s Festival.

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The Fest concluded last Saturday night with a sold-out performance by the Festival Orchestra. The first half of the concert focused on this year’s “Mozart” theme, with his Piano Concerto No. 21 featuring pianist Spencer Myer. “His command of the audience was absolutely incredible,” said Tess Albin-Smith, Festival Orchestra percussionist and Symphony of the Redwoods board treasurer. “We were spellbound.”

The finale was Brahms’ Requiem with vocals provided by a combined chorus of several different local choirs from Mendocino County, including some visiting soloists. “I don’t know where Pollack found them,” said Albin-Smith, “but they were great!”

Dates have already been set for the 2016 Mendocino Music Festival. Mark your calendars, opening night is July 9, 2016!

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