November 24, 2020
There are always musicians who make essential contributions but somehow miss the spotlight of fame. Pianist, cultural ambassador, and educator Donna Stoering is one of those people, conductor Barbara Day Turner, artistic director of San José Chamber Orchestra, is another. And post-Thanksgiving, Stoering will be participating in a concert celebrating Turner’s achievements, and raising money for SJCO’s forthcoming projects, as part of her Notes for Nourishment program (associated with her larger nonprofit, Listen for Life).
Notes for Nourishment is simply a way for musicians to raise money for local charities and causes. The sponsored concerts are free, but donations go directly to the chosen cause. Over the 17 years of the program, writes Stoering, “these concerts have raised thousands of dollars for over 56 different nonprofits in recent years — food banks, domestic violence shelters, artificial limb creators, homeless shelters, innovative school meal programs, medical treatment facilities, scholarships, and more.”
But with a pandemic shutdown blowing major holes in the budgets of arts organizations, the Nov. 29 (7 p.m. PST) Notes for Nourishment concert, with Stoering at the piano, Philip Brezina (violin), Evan Kahn (cello), and Erin Nolan (viola), benefits the local orchestra that Turner has led in exemplary fashion for more than two decades. Kahn is the assistant principal cello for SJCO and a busy South Bay musician; Brezina is SJCO’s principal second violin as well as a bluegrass fiddler and a teacher. Nolan is a co-founder, with Stoering, of Notes for Nourishment.
Stoering and Nolan have had the help of volunteers, many of them quite young, to bring this concert series online: This show was filmed with 3 cameras and then completely edited by 11-year-old Emilia Diaz Delgado, with some help from other young musicians. The concert will be available on the organization’s YouTube channel.
Turner has been SJCO’s artistic director since its founding in 1991. The orchestra’s core 19 string players and its conductor have never shied away from a challenge: Turner has commissioned and/or premiered 140 new works by local composers in 29 years. She was also the Artistic Administrator and Conductor for Opera San José for 18 years. SJCO’s upcoming online event, on December 10, celebrates its 15-year holiday partnership with the Choral Project, a curated concert drawn from archived excerpts from past performances over the last 15 years and featuring a newly recorded, socially distanced performance of Ola Gjeilo’s Across the Vast, Eternal Sky. Tickets for that performance are at wintersgifts.com.