Beverly Wilcox, a natural hornist, is a graduate student in music history at UC Davis.
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When a concert is titled "Sound the Trumpet," and features music of Bach and Handel, listeners naturally expect to get their ears blasted off with the Second "Brandenburg" and the Royal Fireworks Music. But nary a kettledrum was in sight as the American Bach Soloists and natural-trumpeter John Thiessen showed the more lyrical side of the trumpet in Saturday's concert at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, repeated Sunday in San Francisco and Monday in Davis.
Chora Nova, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, continued its quest to present rarely performed works with Saturday's "Homage to St. Nicholas" concert at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. The program consisted of an early Haydn work, Missa Sancti Nicolai, and Benjamin Britten's cantata Saint Nicholas. Although billed as a concert to launch the holiday season, these pieces had little connection but name to Christmas traditions or to each other.
Noted UCLA musicologist Robert Winter and guest conductor George Thomson joined forces on Saturday night with the Santa Rosa Symphony to produce a Symphonie fantastique in its native habitat: the golden age of literature and the arts that was Paris in 1830, the year the restored Bourbon monarchy ended in revolution.
An ad hoc chamber group can sometimes be more interesting to listen to than a full-time professional quartet. With the latter, you get glossy perfection, with every detail planned in the course of endless hours of rehearsal. But when local artists get together and prepare a program for a single performance, you can feel the drama and spontaneity that was part of the 19th-century musical environment.