Article by Roberta Werdinger
“New Traditions, Old Traditions,” the 2018-19 season of the Ukiah Symphony under the direction of Les Pfutzenreuter, debuts on September 8 of this year and concludes in May of 2019. The four concerts in the series will show the orchestra undergoing a marvelous series of transformations–from the brassy instrumentation of the Big Band sound to the yearning moods and chords of Tchaikovsky–in this beloved local institution’s never-ending quest for musical excellence.
The first concert of the series, scheduled for September 8 and 9, is playfully titled “Kick Off Your Shoes!” The Big Band concert that the orchestra offered last spring was so popular that Pfutzenreuter decided to bring it back. Featuring songstress Roseanne Wetzel and crooner Pedro Rodelas, the orchestra will once again outfit itself with extra saxophone, trumpet and trombone parts to bring back 1940s and 50s favorites such as Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. With Wetzel and Rodelas singing duets and the orchestra rounded out with a rhythm section, this will be a delightful extension of the Ukiah Symphony’s classical repertoire.
“Vienna’s Masters” will follow on December 1 and 2, featuring the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Joseph Haydn, who all converged on the cultural capital of Vienna in the second half of the 18th century. The orchestra will perform Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, followed by Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C major performed by the Milou Trio of San Francisco. The Mendocino College Choir under the direction of Janice Timm will conclude with Haydn’s Timpani Mass, also known as the Paukenmesse. Pfutzenreuter comments that the three great composers “used a universal musical vocabulary” that has kept their music fresh and relevant to this day.
“Triple Piano Concertos!!!”–exclamation points needed–will take place on January 26 and 27, 2019. Circumstances have finally allowed the orchestra to secure three grand pianos for the College’s Center Theatre stage. They will be ably staffed by pianists Carolyn Steinbuck, Elena Casanova, and Elizabeth MacDougall. The concert will start with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, after which the pianists along with the orchestra will perform Mozart’s Triple Piano Concerto–composed specifically for three pianos–as well as Bach’s Triple Concerto in D minor. The interplay between the pianists, playing with and in counterpoint to each other and to the orchestra as a whole, is not to be missed.
The season will conclude on May 18 and 19 of 2019 with “Roy Malan In Concert.” Malan, former concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet, will serve as guest concertmaster for the Symphony–playing lead violin and overseeing the bowing of the string section. The program consists of two Tchaikovsky pieces as well as Alexander Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor. Glazunov, a Russian composer of the late Romantic period, wrote the concerto in 1904. Pfutzenreuter finds it “very romantic and western-sounding”–romantic in the other sense of the word, that is. And he calls the concluding piece, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, “a glorious work, serving as the crescendo for the whole season.”
And quite a season it will be, Pfutzenreuter’s 29th with the orchestra. Asked about his position, he replies, “It’s the conductor’s job to be the link between the soloist and the orchestra. The conductor watches and listens to the orchestra, pays attention to the tempo, and makes sure the players speed down and slow up at same time.” Because of its large and complex nature, “an orchestra needs a translator; no one person can see it all. I am like a translator in time.”
Although officially retired from his teaching position at the college, Pfutzenreuter comments that “I don’t really feel like I’m retired, because I’m still doing a lot of the things I was doing before.” Without the day to day responsibilities of a professor, “I can just do the fun stuff. This doesn’t seem like work to me.” All those who are fortunate enough to work with Pfutzenreuter would tend to agree.
Season tickets for the 2018-19 Ukiah Symphony Season are $90 for ages 18 to 64, and $30 for a single concert; $75 for age 65 and up and $25 for a single concert; and free for ASB card holders and everyone under 18. (Buying a season ticket is like hearing four concerts for the cost of three.) Season tickets and single tickets are available at www.ukiahsymphony.org; single tickets are also sold one month prior to each concert at the Mendocino Book Company at 102 S. School St. in Ukiah. All concerts take place at the Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah, with free parking and wheelchair access. For further information please call the Ukiah Symphony hotline at 707 462-0236.
The Ukiah Symphony’s sponsors, program advertisers and donors make it possible to bridge the gap between ticket sales and concert expenses, which average $15,000-18,000 per concert. Those interested in helping to support the Symphony may now make a donation online at www.ukiahsymphony.org.
Sponsors for the 2018-19 season are Adventist Health Ukiah Valley; Drs. Larry Falk and Margaret Arner; Robert Axt; Dr. Andrew I. Corbett, D.D.S., MS, Inc.; Conrad and Joan Cox; Rich and Jean Craig; “In Memory of Dr. Hugh Curtis”; Guilford and Gudrun Dye; Dr. Herschel and Susan Gordon; Monte and Kay Hill; Charles and Wanda Mannon; Pacific Redwood Medical Group; Realty World/Selzer Realty; Savings Bank of Mendocino County; Jaye Alison Moscariello and Bill Taylor; and Tommy and Ann Thornhill.