Saturday, June 18, 2016

concert review: Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra

I don't often review PACO, as it's purely a student training orchestra, but they were having a 50th anniversary celebration last weekend, so I thought it was about time to feature them in the Daily Journal, published yesterday. But experiencing the concert was an unwonted, and unwanted, adventure.

What I didn't know, because the news hadn't made it onto the website as of the last time I'd checked a couple days before, and I wasn't on the orchestra's mailing list even though the managers knew I was coming, was that the venue had changed. I arrived at Spangenberg, a high-school auditorium at the near end of Palo Alto, about 15 minutes before showtime, later than I'd intended, and found it deserted, fortunately except for one woman left outside, like a William Morris character, to direct the lost, who told me the show had been moved to the Methodist Church on Hamilton. Ah, the Concrete Tent, I know it well, and a superior venue acoustically, but it's downtown, way over on the other side of the city. I jumped back in my car and tore off down Arastradero, across on Alma, and up Channing, and actually got there and parked in 15 minutes, which might impress those of you who know Palo Alto, to find fortuitously that the starting time had also been postponed half an hour.

The concert was an assorted mishmosh, largely of music that included pastiches of other music, and the program book said that the Holst piece, which was an except from the St. Paul Suite, was from the Capriol Suite, which is actually by somebody else. (I corrected that silently in my review.) But the music making was pretty good, the speech making interleaved with it was tolerable and understandable (even the one who'd taken the instruction "less than 15 minutes" to mean 14'59"), and the big group finale of 150 strings playing Bach was awesome.

One thing about a 50-year-old student orchestra is that you get a lot of adults who used to be members, and I got to use all of the words alumnus, alumna, and alumni in the review. This is a usage that's seldom got right, so I was pleased to demonstrate it.

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