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Enter for a Chance to Win 12 Dinners from 12 Local Restaurants


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Symphony of the Redwoods Presents a Soloist with a Mendocino County Connection


Mezzo-soprano Erin Neff will return to the Mendocino coast to perform with the Symphony of the Redwoods on Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7 at 2pm in Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. The program will include Delius’ “The Walk to the Paradise Garden”, Dvorak’s Symphony #5 in F Major and Berlioz’ Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights), with Neff as the featured soloist.

Les nuits d’été was inspired by poet Théophile Gautier, friend and neighbor of Berlioz. Gautier’s obsession with death and cemeteries led to the completion of his poetry collection, The Comedy of Death. These poems contributed the text for all six stages of Berlioz’ song cycle. “I worked on these pieces a bit in college and I was incredibly moved,” explained Neff. “I haven’t worked on them since then. When [Symphony music director] Allen [Pollack] proposed the piece for these concerts, I was thrilled. It’s definitely on a singer’s bucket list.”

A self-proclaimed ‘late bloomer,’ Neff discovered her passion singing at age 26 while studying in Madrid, after her roommate exposed her to the university chorus. “I was exhilarated in a way I had not experienced before,” said Neff. “It really rocked my world.”

Neff has become increasingly familiar with Mendocino County, making several visits to the area over the recent years. She made her directorial debut at the Mendocino Music Festival, with a co-conceptualized production with Allan Pollack. “I had done some directing before, but not a full production,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to re-do the show last year.” Neff has additionally been invited to direct the San Francisco Opera.

See the Symphony of the Redwoods and Ern Neff on Saturday, February 6 at 8pm, and Sunday, February 7 at 2pm. All concerts will be at Cotton Auditorium, 500 N. Harold Street, Fort Bragg. Tickets are $20, and attendees 18 and under are always free. For more information, please visit symphonyoftheredwoods.org and erinneff.com.

Check back next week to read about Erin Neff’s multimedia art installations.

Click here for tickets

Click here to RSVP on Facebook

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Happy New Year!

2015 has been a good year for Symphony of the Redwoods and we’re looking for an even better one in 2016.

The Fall Concert in November was a smash hit with violinist Yevgeny Kutik bringing back quite a few folks for both performances of the Bruch’s Violin Concerto #1.

The Holiday Revue, our annual fundraiser pops concert, was another success! Mainly accompanied by Les Pfutzenreuter and the Symphony Pops Orchestra, Marja Liisa Kay, our emcee, sang beautifully and luxuriantly as always and brought together several friends for duos, trios & quartets of great holiday music.

They were all joined by two a cappella groups: the ever-popular Acafellas and the lyrically lilting ladies of In the Mix. In addition, four little ballerinas from the Children’s Ballet Theater of the Mendocino Coast performed an endearing interpretation of the Spanish dance from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. The audience provided the punctuating oo’s and aww’s. The tiny dancers were incredibly sweet.

The feature article for December’s Real Estate Magazine – Mendocino Coast was all about our Symphony, entitled “Our Local Orchestra”. We handed the magazines out with the programs at the Revue & will have some copies available at the Winter Concert coming up on February 6 & 7. If you haven’t yet read the article, please grab a copy. Or you can read it online here.

On January 31, Laura Reynolds, oboe, will be joined by friends Beth and Tom Aiken, oboe and harpsichord, and Eva von Bahr, bassoon, at Preston Hall in Mendocino for a bit of chamber music, ranging from baroque to contemporary. More info to follow.

Then on February 6 & 7, the Symphony will play Delius’ “Walk to the Paradise Garden”, an orchestral interlude from his opera A Village Romeo and Juliet. Erin Neff, mezzo soprano, joins us that weekend to insert thoughts of summer into the dark winter nights. She will be singing Les nuits d’été by Berlioz. The concert will finish with Dvorak’s 5th Symphony. A delightful and exciting program we’ll tell you more about in a few weeks.

On March 13, the Noyo Consort – composed of Don Benham, trombone, Jason Kirkman, piano, Lou Johnson, guitar, and Stacey Street, voice – will present a varied program ranging from lieder to the blues at Preston Hall in Mendocino, the final Opus Chamber Music concert for the season. It sounds like fun! Watch for another blog post.

Finally, we tie off this season with the Spring Concert on April 9 & 10 featuring Natsuki Fukusawa, piano, joining us for Brahms’ Piano Concerto #1. Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and Hayden’s Symphony #103, Drum Roll, will round out the program.

And this will have been our 33rd season of providing live classical music to coast audiences and visitors. We are so proud of having served you over the years and we are working hard to continue the tradition. Please join us at the concerts and remember us when you find you have spare funds. Without our donors and sponsors – private individuals and local businesses – we truly could not survive.

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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We are seeking volunteers to lend their time next Saturday, Dec. 19 for the Symphony Pops Orchestra Holiday Revue. We’re in particular need for individuals willing to stay after the concert to assist with cleanup and loading of instruments.

All volunteers are granted free admittance in the performance.

If you are interested, please contact Irene at 707-964-1931

Symphony Pops Orchestra Holiday Revue
Saturday, December 19 at 7pm
Cotton Auditorium, Fort Bragg
Click here to RSVP on Facebook

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Join the Symphony Pops Orchestra for an Annual Holiday Tradition

holiday revue

Hear the Symphony Pops Orchestra in their annual Holiday Revue concert! The Orchestra will be joined by Acafellas and In the Mix, dancers and other local performers, with Marja Liisa Kay as MC. Bring the entire family to this wonderfully festive event!

General admission tickets are $15 or $10 for seniors. 18 and under free! Follow the Symphony of the Redwoods blog for more performance updates.

Symphony Pops Orchestra Holiday Revue
Saturday, December 19 at 7pm
Cotton Auditorium, Fort Bragg
Click here to get your tickets today!
Click here to RSVP on Facebook


Also, don’t miss the All-Day Craft Fair on the same day in the Cotton and Middle School hallways. Let local vendors assist with your holiday shopping while you enjoy mulled cider and snacks. Don’t forget to say ‘Hi’ to Santa!

Proceeds benefit the Symphony of the Redwoods.

All-Day Craft Fair
Saturday, December 19 at 10am
Cotton Auditorium and Fort Bragg Middle School halls
Click here to RSVP on Facebook

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Successful Opening Concerts Launched Symphony’s 33rd Season


November 14 and 15 marked the opening concerts for the Symphony of the Redwoods’ 33rd season. Symphony PayPal records showed attendants from hours away, including Chico, Sacramento, San Jose, and Miranda.

The first piece of the night was Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, featuring a massive brass section composed of local and visiting musicians. “This ensemble was formed specifically for this piece,” explained percussionist Tess Albin-Smith. “They rounded out the piece in a way we weren’t able to experience during rehearsal.”

The Symphony has limited practice time prior to each performance, but for the musicians, rehearsals are the biggest perk to being a member.  “Our director, Allen [Pollack] is always sharing his interpretations of the pieces we’re performing,” said Albin-Smith. His most memorable anecdote related to their second piece of the evening, Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. “He described it as Beethoven’s ‘big joke’,” Albin-Smith said. “It sounds similar to Haydn’s ‘Surprise’ Symphony, getting soft then unexpectedly loud.”

For their closing piece, the Symphony was joined by featured soloist Yevgeny Kutik, who performed Bruch’s Violin Concerto #1 in g minor with virtuoso aplomb rarely experienced here on the Coast. “He played completely from memory, even during rehearsal,” recalled Albin-Smith. “It didn’t matter what measure number we started from. He knew exactly what to play.” As soon as the final chord was struck, the audience immediately leapt to their feet. Several Saturday night attendees chose to return on Sunday for a second dose of Kutik’s stirring performance.

The Symphony’s “Winter Dreams” concerts will be at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg on February 6th and 7th, with featured soloist Erin Neff.  Like us on Facebook and follow our blog for more Symphony of the Redwoods updates.

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Remembering Cordelia Shampanier


Cordelia Iris Shampanier, owner of Fiddles and Cameras and original member of the Symphony of the Redwoods, passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at Mendocino Coast District Hospital. She was 82.

Shampanier, born and raised in Victoria, B.C., Canada, began piano lessons with her mother at age 3. She graduated from San Francisco State University and received her master’s in library science from the University of Denver. She played violin and viola for the Symphony of the Redwoods and owned Fiddles and Cameras for 47 years. She also performed with Ukiah Symphony, Lake County Symphony and chamber music groups.

Fellow founding member of the Symphony of the Redwoods Marcia Sloane recalls her fondest memory of Cordelia, circa 1985:

“I was on a Sunday afternoon bike ride with a friend. We were way out Sherwood Road east of Fort Bragg, a dirt road with no houses and no traffic, perfect for biking. And here out in the middle of nowhere there suddenly appeared a large Oldsmobile-type sedan, and lo and behold, it was Cordelia out for a Sunday drive. And ever after, that little rascal twinkle in her eye would remind me of seeing her zooming around, exploring the backwoods far from the madding crowd.”

A memorial service and a celebration of life will be held at St. Michael and All Angels, in Fort Bragg, on Wed. Nov. 18, 2015, at noon, with a reception to follow. Arrangements are by Chapel by the Sea.

Memorial donations may be made to Symphony of the Redwoods, the Food Bank, or Gloriana Musical Theatre.

Read Cordelia Shampanier’s complete obituary by the Fort Bragg Advocate-News here. 


Shampanier’s Steinway piano is on sale for $14,000. Her family is also willing to lend the piano to a temporary home in the local community while they search for a buyer. Click here for more information.