FAIRFIELD — The annual Solano Symphony holiday concert celebration was hampered by no heat at the Solano Community College show but earned plenty of warm reviews for the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre performance the following day.
The first portion of the performance, “A Mass of the Children, included dozens of Solano Symphony regular musicians. The stage was alive with the magnificent presence of the ultra talented Ukrainian born soprano Svetlana Nikitenko and the powerful baritone Sepp Hammer. They were accompanied by the Solano Choral Society, the Solano Community College Chamber Choir directed by Kristy Juliano, and the Vallejo St. Vincent Elementary Children’s Chorus under the direction of Debbie Barlow.
Svetlana and Sepp are unquestionably stellar music professionals and flawlessly sung their parts of this technically challenging “short Mass,” which included a resounding “Gloria” and “Agnus Dei.”
The inconsistency of audience review, however, came during Sunday’s intermission when audience member, Vallejo artist Sarah Evans, commented that she felt the “short Mass” was “restful, ethereal and classical.”
“The music melded well with the children’s voices. One can tell that it represented lots of practice,” said regular symphony attendee Rosemary Elsbernd.
Retired educational administrator Alicia Garcia disagreed.
“Why do choir directors and conductors insist upon such dreary, difficult music at Christmas time?” she said, rhetorically.
The second half was classical Christmas.
The symphony played 11 selections from Tchaivosky’s famous “Nutcracker Suite.”
This ever popular music was executed magnificently with special kudos to harpist Barbara Tutt, flutists Dan Scharlin, Cyndi Chancellor and Marjorie Phillips, and Jaclyn Burroughs on French Horn.
Audiences were furthermore treated to an encore performance of “Winter Wonderland” and high praise should be given to Brian Wood for his outstanding talent on trumpet, especially in the opening segment of the encore.
The holidays are indeed a time of joy, comfort, peace and good will. Overall, the symphony managed to deliver all of that and more.
Mark your calendars now for the Solano Symphony’s annual “Salute to Youth,” Feb. 8 in Suisun City and Feb. 9 in Vacaville.
For more information, call 455-7211.
Paula McConnell is a free-lance writer living in Vallejo.