Winter has arrived in Sonoma with all its chill winds and rain in tow, but that hasn’t rendered the city’s cultural scene any less vibrant. With Live Oak Baroque Orchestra in town, Sonoma’s luxury real estate will be aglow with the sound of beautifully and passionately performed music.
On Friday, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. in Schroeder Hall at Sonoma State University, the orchestra will complete its four-year Vivaldi project with the Autumn concerto from Four Seasons. One of Vivaldi’s most famous works, it is worth knowing more about before arriving at the concert hall.
The Four Seasons
Haydn wasn’t the first composer to rely on nicknames rather than numbers for keeping track of his vast number of symphonies. Vivaldi did it before him, with his Four Seasons – composed in 1723 – just one example. As the name implies, each concerto represents a different season. See how easy that is to remember?
The music, according to Classic FM, is joined by incredible Italian sonnets that may have even been written by Vivaldi himself. Vivaldi was struck with inspiration for the concertos after witnessing the paintings of the seasons created by Marco Ricci. Some concerts even have the sonnets read aloud beforehand as a kind of narrative for the music.
Such was Vivaldi’s skill that the sounds of his Four Seasons resemble the sounds of the seasons themselves. Winter, for instance, features plucked strings that reverberate like cold rain striking the glass. Spring invokes the noise of awakening life, and Summer the roar of a balmy storm wiping away the humidity.
Classic FM described how Autumn, the concerto that Live Oak Baroque Orchestra will play on Friday, has a section that says “the drunks have fallen asleep.” Perhaps Vivaldi envisaged afternoon football games centuries in advance.
As spectacular as Vivaldi’s composition is, its players are what give it life. Luckily, Sonoma’s orchestra is led by Baroque violin sensation Elizabeth Blumenstock, widely admired for her instrumental eloquence and technical dazzle.
An experienced concertmaster and soloist with the American Bach Soloists and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra – both based in the Bay Area – Blumenstock is music director of the Corona del Mar Baroque Music Festival and a teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
“A unique reconstruction of a lost Bach violin concerto will also be played on Friday.”
On Friday, she will play her reconstruction of a lost Bach violin concerto, the original of which survives in Bach’s hand as a composition for the harpsichord.
While Blumenstock may be the most famous of Live Oak Baroque Orchestra’s players, she is just one of many fabulous talents.
Aaron Westman, ordained a virtuoso on the violin by Early Music American, will be there, and Mary Springfels, founder of the Newberry Consort, will be performing on her viola. A number of others, including Josh Lee, Maria Caswell and Phebe Craig will also contribute.