What a glorious evening; the opening night gala of the Santa Rosa Symphony at Weill Hall in Rohnert Park. It just doesn’t get much better. There is a special thrill about attending any opening night, but when it’s in the incomparable, magnificent and acoustically impeccable Weill Hall – well, it’s just plain joy personified.
Now, not being a musician or a qualified music critic, it would be pretentious beyond belief for me to critique the symphony’s performance. All I can say is that I was totally captivated throughout the evening. Perhaps because the 5th in D minor, Opus 47 and I were born in the same year – perhaps because of the energy of Bruno Ferrandis – but for whatever reason, I was captivated AND, when the percussion section kicked in at the end, it filled me up - ripped through my emotions! I could feel the Red Army marching across the Nazi troupes and grinding them into the Siberian permafrost. O.K. so all that happened a few years after the symphony was written, but nonetheless – that’s the emotion it evoked in me and I loved it.
As I said, for me to critique the symphony and it’s performance would be pretentious in the extreme, however, I will critique the audience. Remember, this was not only a symphony performance in a world class venue, it was THE OPENING NIGHT GALA! A formal occasion! I find it unconscionable that anyone would come to an event of this magnitude dressed like they were going to a flea market. There were a few people in formal attire. Most were casually well dressed, but there were some who looked like they had dropped by on their way back from the flea market. AND, I saw at least four men who didn’t take their hats off, not only inside the hall, but also during the performance! Hey! That really is a no-no!
I can’t imagine the energy it took to pull all the various elements together to achieve this incomparable venue in our own back yard; the years of planning, the fund raising, the soliciting of patrons and sponsors. The energy required to pull off an achievement of this magnitude is staggering. The energy required for a community the size of ours to establish and maintain a reputable and well-respected symphony orchestra is likewise staggering - phenomenal. The least we, the audience, the people it has all been done for can do is show our respect for all that energy and effort by putting on our best bib and tucker. No, I’m not saying that every one has to come in a tux or basic black and pearls. You don’t have to be dripping in mink – but saggy sweats? I don’t think so!
O.K. rant over. The evening was glorious. The music spectacular. The venue exceptional. Weill Hall has done it again … and there’s so much more to come. In upcoming months our Santa Rosa Symphony will be presenting concerts featuring everything from Gershwin to Mozart, Handel to Beethoven, and a special family friendly concert, “Wild Animal Kingdom.
In addition to our Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall will be playing host to a wide spectrum of world class artists including: Garrick Ohisson, The Silk Road Ensemble, Philharmonica Baroque, Hillary Hahn, Richard Goode, and the incomparable Jessye Norman to name just a few.
This magnificent gift, this outstanding venue is right here in our own back yard. Take advantage of it. Use it to it’s fullest. Revel in it. It’s ours!