Matinee concert will take a unique approach to chamber music

Photo SBSO: Maestro Anthony Parnther will perform Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon at San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra’s matinee concert Sunday, March 15th, 2020.
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Fresh off another sold out concert evening, the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra will present a 3 p.m. matinee concert Sunday, March 15, 2020 at the historic California Theatre of the Performing Arts.

“Sunday Matinee concerts have been an important part of our subscription season for many years,” said Board President Dean McVay. “Often people do not like to drive at night but still want to enjoy outstanding orchestral music. This is the perfect alternative for them!”

Specifically selected for this concert are Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Grieg’s Holberg Suite, and – with Maestro Anthony Parnther taking the solo role – Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon.

“I am excited to perform the Mozart Concerto for the first time in nearly two decades,” said Parnther, who will also be conducting simultaneously, virtually unheard of for wind soloists. “The bassoon is typically utilized in a supporting role in the symphony orchestra, so this is one of those rare opportunities where we get to witness the bassoon at its utmost; as both a deeply lyrical and virtuosic instrument.”

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Added McVay, “It’s not often that a professional orchestra of our size is fortunate enough to have a world-class instrumental soloist as their Maestro.  We are so lucky to have one of the finest bassoon players in the world – who performs weekly in many different capacities including countless film scores for movie and television – as our Maestro, and this March chamber concert affords the public a glimpse into his other life as a recording artist and soloist.  I’m thrilled to be able to show off our Maestro to the community at large.”

Unlike traditional chamber orchestra concerts which feature perhaps a dozen or two orchestra members, this event will include a larger complement from across the Symphony’s sections.  This is, in fact, in accordance to the composer of Serenade for Strings’ wishes. Tchaikovsky wrote on the second page of the original score, “The larger number of players in the string orchestra, the more this shall be in accordance with the author’s wishes.”

Not wishing to disappoint the memory of the composer, 39 total musicians will be utilized.

“The first measure of the Serenade for Strings, alone, requires a rich, deep, and intense quality from the strings,” said Parnther, “and it requires a full section of performers to achieve this sound.”

Composed in 1880, Serenade for Strings is one of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved compositions. The score was used as the foundation of George Balanchine’s ballet Serenade in 1934 and excerpts from the score were used in the 2005 ballet Anne Karenina. The piece incidentally accompanied the final countdown for the Trinity atomic bomb test July 16, 1945, as broadcast by Voice of America. And, for those more attracted to gaming than ballet, the first movement (Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo — Allegro moderato) is the motif of Stefano Valentini, one of the main antagonists in the game The Evil Within 2.  

Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat major was written in 1774 when the composer was just 18 years old, and it was his first concerto for a wind instrument.

 “This is the first concerto Mozart ever wrote for a wind instrument and it’s a masterpiece,” said Parnther, adding “You’ll find that this bassoon concerto is particularly conversational in nature, especially in the first movement which contains plenty of playful banter between the orchestra and the bassoon. The middle movement is much more heartfelt and operatic in nature before the concerto closes with an elegant minuet.”

Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Op. 40, contains five movements based on eighteenth century dance forms. It was written in 1884 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dano-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg. It was originally composed for the piano, but a year later was adapted by Grieg himself for string orchestra. Although it is not as famous as Grieg’s Peer Gynt, which is itself usually performed as arranged in a pair of suites, many critics regard the works as of equal merit.

Concluded Parnther, “These works penned by Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Mozart, while demanding and highly detailed, represent the finest chamber works in the repertoire. We are ready for this challenge and cannot wait to dig into this great music.” 

One Concert Will Follow

The March 15th concert is the fifth of six major performances scheduled for the Symphony’s 91st season. The season will close May 2 at 7:30 p.m. with From Stage to Screen, a tribute to the golden age of Hollywood with movie scores from Bernard Hermann and a tribute to Judy Garland by Emmy-nominated vocalist Angela Ingersoll.

The Symphony’s 92nd Season will be on sale by early April. The 91st Season’s remaining two concerts will all be held at the historic California Theatre of the Performing Arts, 562 W. 4th Street, San Bernardino. Concert tickets are currently on sale and may be purchased at or by calling (909) 381-5388. Students and active military tickets are just $15. General admission tickets are $30, $45, $55, and $65.

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