Symphony marks Valentine's Day with special concert

February 15, 2002|By DENNIS POND, Special to this newspaper

The Imperial Valley Symphony presented its mid-winter concert in the Southwest High School theater in El Centro on Valentine's Day, and a good concert got even better as it reached its second half.

Sponsored by the Imperial Valley Symphony Association and the Imperial Valley College music department, the symphony is in its 28th season under the baton of founding music director Joel Jacklich.

The concert included Johann Sebastian Bach's "Passacaglia and Fuge in C Minor," Johannes Brahms' "Variations on a theme of Haydn, Opus 56a" and concluded with "Concerto in A Major for Clarinet, K. 622" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mitch Sturman, a music teacher at Wilson Junior High School in El Centro, was the soloist.

Maestro Jacklich explained to the audience how composers use the concept of variations of an original theme, then proceeded to have the orchestra demonstrate the particular theme to be used.


In the case of the Bach passacaglia, 20 different evolutions were created above the theme in the bass of the orchestra. The passacaglia and fugue was written by Bach for pipe organ and transcribes for orchestra in a pleasing fashion.

Brahams' set of variations uses as its theme the Saint Anthoni Chorale, which, while ascribed to Franz Josef Haydn, was already in existence. Brahams used a different approach to the variations, choosing to select featured instruments from the ensemble and illustrate their capabilities in tone color, mixing and blending the orchestral sounds.

The orchestra performed very well. Rhythm was cohesive throughout the evening, intonation within and among the various sections of the orchestra was excellent. The orchestra was formed originally with one intent, being to give local musicians a place to play.

Included in the definition of local musicians was the idea to allow young musicians an opportunity to gain experience in classical music. There were several young musicians included in each of the brass, woodwind and string sections. Van Decker of the IVC music faculty was the lone percussionist, seeing to it that the explosives in the demolition section occurred in the proper places.

The music making in the first half of the concert was sublime, but after the intermission … what a thrill! Mozart's clarinet concerto was his last composition for orchestra, number 622 out of a total compositional output of 625. The piece was commissioned by Anton Stadler and Mozart doctored up a previous composition for basset horn to meet the deadline. The performance by Sturman was exquisite.

His tone and fluency from the lowest notes of the clarinet to the highest were crystal clear. The arching arpeggios were wonderful to behold.

Mr. Sturman's music education and professional experience are impressive and his performance on this concert capped a wonderful evening of superlative music.

>> Dennis Pond teaches music at Calexico High School.

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