2 Quintets Replace Full Symphony Concert

By Keri Luiz
The Benicia Herald
January 2, 2014

Vallejo Symphony Orchestra's plans for a New Year's concert have been slimmed down a bit - an acknowledgement that while VSO's severe financial straits may be a thing of the past, the economy is not exactly humming along at optimum efficiency. Rather than its regular full concert, "New Year, Old Friends," the orchestra will present "Chamber Music Gems" on Sunday, featuring two quintets comprised of Bay Area musicians.

"Subscribers received a letter saying they could use their tickets for this performance, along with other options," said Tim Zumwalt, VSO's publicist. Attendees can expect what they always get from a Vallejo Symphony performance: top-notch musicianship and an eclectic playlist.

The two quintets - Divisa Ensemble and Avenue Winds - feature some of the Bay Area's top musicians presenting a mix of musical styles, from baroque to classical, romantic to modern. They will perform Mozart's Flute Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Jan Koetsier's Petite Suite Champetre (quintet), and more. "The Divisa Ensemble tries to incorporate duets, trios, quartets and quintets into all of their performances," said oboe player Adrienne Malley, who will perform in two of Divisa's pieces and all but one of the Avenue Winds pieces. Divisa includes Tomiko Tsai, flute; Stephanie Ng, viola; Sara Styles, cello; and Quelani Penland, violin.

Avenue Winds, Malley said, focuses more on the full ensemble, "but we do break down into a couple of smaller groups on occasion." Around since 2002, the group "maintains a special interest in 20th- and 21st-century composers, especially local San Francisco Bay Area composers," she said. "At every concert, we try and perform the 'classics' as well as a piece by a local composer." Avenue Winds includes Daniel Wood, horn; Dan Ferreira, clarinet; Charles Moehnke, bassoon; and Melanie Keller, flute. They will perform Francis Poulenc's Sextet (joined by pianist Eric Zivian), Irving Fine's Partita for Wind Quintet and Wood's own Our Hot Date with Destiny, a quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. "Daniel was not a member of the ensemble at the prior performances, as he just joined over the summer, so this will be his first performance of his piece!" Malley said.

While its performance plans have changed, VSO's charitable spirit - and the spirit of the season - remains undimmed. The orchestra will donate $5 from each ticket purchase to the Red Cross for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines. "This includes subscribers' tickets," Zumwalt said.

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