By Ted AYALA
Beating within the chest of any orchestra is a heart comprised of the talents of the orchestra’s section leaders; their timbres the orchestra’s lifeblood. Often it is the conductor with baton flashing or the guest star soloist plowing through a virtuoso concerto that grips the audience’s attention and fascination. But the listener often takes for granted the oboist that emerges like a shaft of light in the slow movement of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony; the consoling solo cello that heralds the ethereal closing bars of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.
In its ranks the Santa Cecilia Orchestra (SCO) counts on the hard work and abilities of a core of wind, brass, and string soloists that would be the envy of many better known orchestras. Not only are these musicians consummate professionals but their sincere love and devotion for the music shines through in their playing. So it is very fitting that the SCO would want to shine the spotlight on its gifted section leaders in its upcoming concert.
Beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13 at Occidental College’s Throne Hall, the SCO will program a concert of works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Argentinean composers Alberto Williams and Astor Piazzolla. Joining the worlds of baroque and tango music, the program will include Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Violins, op.3, no.2 in G minor”; Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No.5” and “Concerto for Violin and Oboe”; Alberto Williams’ “1st Argentine Suite”; and Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango”. Soloists featured will include Salpy Kerkonian, Yi-Huan Zhao, Alexander Kalman, Melissa Phelps, Anna Kostyushek, and Natasha Marin, who will be the piano soloist in the Bach 5th Brandenburg Concerto.
“We have a history of featuring our members as soloists,” said SCO music director Sonia Marie de Leon de Vega. “We like to do this every year. Our audience gets to enjoy hearing the players as soloists and they’re all excellent players.”
Commenting on the unique pairing of baroque music and 20th century works from Argentina, de Leon de Vega said, “We chose an interesting program that would engage the audience. The Alberto Williams suite was programmed because it’s very rarely played and it’s a beautiful piece of music. It made perfect sense to program it along with [Piazzolla’s] ‘Libertango’.”
The SCO’s stimulating programming and community outreach have won it many friends. Last month’s chamber concert at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts sold out quickly. “We’re always happy that we get to play for a full audience,” said de Leon de
Tickets for the Feb. 13 concert range from $7 to $26. Tickets and information can be found by calling the SCO office at (323) 259-3011 or by visiting the SCO’s website at www.scorchestra.org.