Composer Gabriella Smith, whose Tumbleweed Contrails, evoking the soundscapes of the California coast, was recently performed by the Oakland Symphony.

“In its aptly named ‘Notes from California’ program on February 24, the Oakland Symphony got the evening off to an atmospherically entrancing start, rich in local color,” writes Steven Winn in Monday’s (2/27) Musical America (subscription required). “The ensemble conjured [a] Bay Area point of pride, the Point Reyes National Seashore. Berkeley native Gabriella Smith’s Tumbleweed Contrails, in its Bay Area premiere, brings a day at the sun-spangled sea-and-sand paradise alive, wonderfully translated into sound. She does it with … a host of effects suggesting wind and seagull cries, the rush and retreat of the surf, even the sky-high glimmer of a passing jet … With Vinjay Parameswaran, another Bay Area native, on the podium, the orchestra tracked Smith’s deeper meditations on the natural realm…. The History of Red, Los Angeles composer Reena Esmail’s 2021 setting of Chickasaw writer Linda Hogan’s eponymous poem, was at once an alluring and frustrating experience. Soprano Kathryn Mueller … gave a haunting performance … A chamber-scale orchestra supported her with heaving urgency in the strings, burbling woodwinds.” The lack of projected or printed text meant that “the audience [missed] out on the scope of Hogan’s remarkable verse…. Parameswaran was an appealing host and conductor.” The program included works by Debussy and Stravinsky.