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San Bernardino Symphony
198 N. Arrowhead Ave.
San Bernardino, CA 92408
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SAN BERNARDINO: Symphony plays for young people
BY SHERLI LEONARD
CORRESPONDENT
features@pe.com
Published: 17 January 2012

The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra introduced young people into the symphonic music scene with its Sunday afternoon concert, “Marvelous Mozart,” at the California Theater in San Bernardino.

A full house, with plenty of well-dressed, well-behaved children, watched young people perform in a string ensemble, heard the captivating interpretation of “Tubby the Tuba,” and heard four soloists from within the orchestra perform Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat Major.” All this marvelous music followed a busy pre-concert program of mini-performances by regional youth groups, crafts activities, cookies, and the instrument petting zoo — a Must-Not-Ever-Stop direct encounter between children and symphonic instruments.

Polished by accompanying a three-concert tour with American Idol finalist David Archuletta, the string ensemble Symphonie Jeunesse, conducted by founder Michele Tacchia, showed why they should be considered a premiere youth string ensemble in Southern California. Tight, elegant, and appearing to be thoroughly confident, the 33 musicians, ranging in age from 12 to 18, performed with solid musicianship, big energy, and a panache that shifted them out of the realm of ordinariness. Both works they performed demanded total concentration, and they all delivered, with seamless tempo and meter shifts and immense artistry.

For Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Heather Millette on clarinet, Carolyn Beck on bassoon, Marilyn Schram on oboe, and Martin Rhees on horn made wonderful music together, intently watching each other, measuring their volume, matching their phrasing. In the process, they demonstrated for the youthful audience members the exquisite achievable sounds of the instruments the kids had just held and blown into and maneuvered at the pre-concert petting zoo.

The orchestra’s offering of “Tubby the Tuba,” a mini-musical composed by San Bernardino native George Kleinsinger, performed by San Bernardino native Curtiss Allen Jr, and narrated and acted by San Bernardino native Curtiss Allen Sr. This enchanting little work — not more than 10 minutes — introduced the symphonic instruments as it told the story of the unappreciated tuba seeking respect.

In top hat and bright red cummerbund, Allen Sr. evoked the characters of Tubby the Tuba and the bull frog with grand enthusiasm, unabashed commitment and impeccable timing, his lovely baritone voice first singing Tubby’s lament and then growling and grumbling the bull frog’s song.

Equally engaging, Allen Jr played the tuba with buttery warm tone and classy mastery of multiple techniques. Together, the Allens showed the young audience members what fun and joy music can bring.