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Tag: Northwest Sinfonietta


Big, dramatic Bruch and charming Mendelssohn with Mayuko Kamio and the Northwest Sinfonietta in Tacoma’s Rialto Theater

Those who came to last Saturday’s Northwest Sinfonietta concert at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater thinking they’d be hearing just another pleasant Bruch/Mendelssohn combination got a big surprise. Polite, petite Mayuko Kamio whipped out her 1727 Strad and played Bruch’s well-known first violin concerto with the volume of an orchestra section and the drama of an opera diva, before sitting demurely in the back of the first violins while Christophe Chagnard took the Sinfonietta through a reading of Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony no. 3 that was both passionate and light-hearted – a fitting end to the ensemble’s 2012/13 season.

Kamio’s a Tchaikovsky gold medalist, and while rock-star soloists don’t always pay their way this one pulled out all her competition stops for Tacoma. After the orchestra played Kodály’s “Dances of Galanta” with verve, airy pianissimos and big, rich fortes (and many messy spots) the young Japanese soloist entered the Rialto stage with the grace and sparkly dress of a princess – the proceeded to belt the heck out of Bruch. With so much sound that she might have been an entire section, Kamio brought out every inch of Bruch’s Romanticism with bow strokes that pushed her gutsy-yet-smooth tone right to the very edge of every note and every beat. Using a wide, fast vibrato she sang like an opera diva, pulling phrases (literally) up and across to the audience – unfortunately only half-full – with vocal legato rather than violinistic portamenti. The second movement had subtle nuances from raw to gentle, and the third theme had the attack and drama of a musical theater torch song. In the finale Kamio’s double, triple and quadruple stops were fierce and lyrical, her virtuoso runs intensely musical and soaring to a triumphant climax.

Behind her, Chagnard and the orchestra followed sensitively through the surges and falls, though with too many mistuned woodwind chords. Read more »


Critic’s Picks: 72 Hour Film Fest at The Grand Cinema; Northwest Sinfonietta in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup; Hilltop glass sale and Mothers’ Day at Tacoma museums

72 Hour Film Fest at The Grand

The Grand Cinema’s annual 72 Hour Film Competition is on again, with 30 teams running around Tacoma and frantically making a movie with last-minute criteria: this year the use of a superstition, a flashlight, a letter/message and the line “that wasn’t what I was expecting.” Tonight you can see the results at the viewing party at the Rialto, including food and drinks from Farelli’s, Katie Downs and Stella Artois. 7 p.m. May 10 (doors open 6 p.m.) Advance $13 non-members /$11 members/$15 at door. Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma. the grandcinema.com

Northwest Sinfonietta finish season with Bruch and Mendelssohn

It’s a highly romantic program for the Northwest Sinfonietta’s season finale. Tchaikovsky gold medalist Mayuko Kamio plays Bruch’s famous Violin Concerto no. 1; the program rounds out with Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta” and Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony no. 3. 7:30 p.m. May 10 (Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle), 7:30 p.m. May 11 (Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma) and 2 p.m. March 12 (Pioneer Park Pavilion, 330 Meridian Ave. S, Puyallup). 888-356-6040, northwestsinfonietta.org

Hilltop glass sale Read more »


Northwest Sinfonietta strikes gold, playing live to Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” in Tacoma’s historic Temple Theater

Saturday night was a first for a lot of Tacoma folks: the first time many had watched a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment, and the first time the 21-year-old Northwest Sinfonietta had played in the Temple Theater. And although the ensemble had done Charlie Chaplin before, it wasn’t a 2-hour feature film. So the effect was even more impressive as the chamber orchestra struck gold, playing for Chaplin’s 1925 “The Gold Rush” with warmth, delicacy and the kind of precise visual synchronization that made you occasionally forget they were even there.

Of course, playing live music for a film in a historic theater built just one year after the film was made is delightfully appropriate, and watching the orchestra tune up in front of a big screen on that enormous stage flanked by art deco Egyptian pillars of aqua and gold is enough to send shivers down your spine. But the tricky part of accompanying film music as a group is keeping together and keeping up with the images – and the Sinfonietta, under phenomenally precise direction from Christophe Chagnard, did this brilliantly.

Interestingly, the evening began with a peek into just how difficult the task is. Chagnard pulled up scans from his 500-page score on the screen, pointing out the verbal cues (characters standing up, fighting, leaving) and his own extremely highlighted notes on cueing his orchestra. Read more »


Charlie Chaplin takes the Northwest Sinfonietta to “The Gold Rush” in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup this weekend

Charlie Chaplin eating boots in "The Gold Rush." Courtesy image.
Charlie Chaplin eating boots in “The Gold Rush.” Courtesy image.

The Northwest Sinfonietta, whose usual domain is the classical chamber orchestra repertoire, had a brief flirtation with Charlie Chaplin four years ago, playing the score live to his silent films “A Dog’s Life” and “Shoulder Arms.” The affair was a success on all sides, and this weekend the ensemble is giving the silent movie maestro another chance to lead them into silliness and mayhem, playing live to a screening of Chaplin’s famous “The Gold Rush” in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup.

But they’re choosing different venues to do it. For Seattle they’ll stick with Benaroya Hall, but to give the film (and the audience) full capacity they’ll be playing in two historic theaters: Tacoma’s Temple and Puyallup’s Liberty, each built in exactly the same era as the Chaplin film.

By 1925, just one year before the Temple was built, Chaplin had seen great success with “Shoulder Arms” and “The Kid,” as well as dozens of short films. By then, too, the Klondike gold rush was turning from recent memory to romantic history. Chaplin was inspired by books, as well as a stereoscope card collection belonging to Douglas Fairbanks. Moving from elaborate on-location shooting at the Chilkoot Pass, with some 600 extras, to just-as-elaborate studio sets made of wood, burlap, chicken wire, plaster, salt and flour, Chaplin created his story of a Lone Prospector (Chaplin’s famous tramp character) who washes up in the Yukon and has every adventure from dance hall brawls to having to eat boots for sustenance, plus the famous scene of a fight in a cabin teetering on a precipice. Read more »


Northwest Sinfonietta gives U.S. premiere of a newly-discovered strings-only accompaniment for Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto, with Andreas Klein as soloist in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup

Pianist Andreas Klein will play solo with the Northwest Sinfonietta this weekend. Courtesy photo.
Pianist Andreas Klein will play solo with the Northwest Sinfonietta this weekend. Courtesy photo.

It’s not your usual Beethoven concerto, but then the Northwest Sinfonietta prides itself on doing new twists on standards. This weekend the Tacoma-based chamber orchestra gives the U.S. premiere of a strings-only version of the composer’s fourth piano concerto with German soloist Andreas Klein.

Found recently in Bonn, Germany and passed onto Klein, the reduced orchestral accompaniment by Beethoven editor Hans-Werner Küthen might be new to U.S. audiences but would have been second nature for 19th-century music lovers. In the era before music recordings, orchestras in every town and oodles of conservatory-trained musicians, if you wanted to hear a classic you sometimes had to play it yourself with whatever instruments were to hand. Piano reductions of Mozart operas, trio versions of symphonies – this was common stuff.

Arranging for different instruments also solves a very contemporary problem – money. For the Sinfonietta and everyone else, it’s much cheaper to play a Beethoven concert with around 20 string players than it is to pay seven extra woodwinds, four brass players and a timpanist as well. Read more »


Northwest Sinfonietta takes reduced tour to Cuba

After the success of last January’s inaugural orchestral trip to Cuba and last September’s exchange of seven musicians from sister-city Cienfuegos here to Tacoma, the Northwest Sinfonietta has completed a second tour with greatly reduced forces.

Conductor Christophe Chagnard, concertmaster Brittany Boulding and pianist Joel Fan were the only musicians to travel with the Tacoma-based chamber orchestra this year, compared to last January when ten members went to play side-by-side concerts with the Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur in Tacoma’s sister-city Cienfuegos, along with 67 private patrons, who also took guided tours of other cultural sites. This year, only

Read more »


Joyful, uniting music at Northwest Sinfonietta’s historic “Cuban” concert in Rialto Theater, Tacoma

Jesús Carnero de la Teja conducts the Northwest Sinfonietta in the Cuban national anthem in the Rialto Theater Saturday night. Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

It was a moment few could have predicted back in 1959 (or even more recently than Cuba’s revolution) – 800 Americans standing in honor while a Cuban conductor led American musicians through the Cuban national anthem, both countries’ flags flanking the stage. But that’s exactly what happened Saturday night at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater, and Friday night in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, and yesterday at Pioneer Park Pavilion, Puyallup, with all three venues seeing packed, enthusiastic houses for a first-ever concert of Cubans playing side by side with Americans in this country. The orchestra was, of course, the Northwest Sinfonietta, whose January Cuba tour sparked off the whole exchange, and who played with most of their usual panache and skill in a program of Beethoven and Lecuona.

In Tacoma, the music came after an official proclamation of “Northwest Sinfonietta Day” by Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and a welcome. Strickland conducted her way through the U.S. national anthem without mishap, and then Cuban violist Jesús Carnero de la Teja took the baton for the Cuban anthem. After three dances by Ernesto Lecuona, the “Cuban Gershwin,” which showed both Lecuona’s flair for ineffable orchestration and a sultry, dramatic flair from the musicians, Carnero again took the podium from director Christophe Chagnard to lead “Danzon Ragon” by Cuban pianist Andrés Alen. Under Carnero’s deft leadership, which also included some suave dancing and inviting the audience to clap along, the bossa nova featured a strong percussion section and smooth brass solos. The Cuban string players also got to lead their respective sections, which was a nice gesture.

And then hot Havana humidity gave way to Germanic Sturm-und-Drang, as Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 began. Read more »


Cellist David Requiro plays with Northwest Sinfonietta in classical program at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Tacoma’s Rialto Theater and Puyallup’s Pioneer Pavilion

Cellist David Requiro, soloist with the Northwest Sinfonietta. Courtesy photo.

When you think classical, you might think Mozart, Haydn, even Beethoven. But this weekend the Northwest Sinfonietta want you to think Prokofiev and Mendelssohn. For their concerts in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup the Tacoma-based chamber orchestra is playing a program that goes from the early 19th to the early 20th centuries – way later than the standard classical time-period – but includes two composers that took inspiration from the late 18th century, plus a cello concerto with stunning local soloist David Requiro.

Sergei Prokofiev opens the program, the Soviet-era composer who reinvented classical form and balance with modern harmonies and dissonances. His Symphony no. 1 is called “The Classical” for a good reason: a tribute to Haydn, it dances through 18th-century styles like the gavotte and sonata form with precision and grace, without any of the heavy depression of his later works. Read more »