“You don’t have to be political to appreciate how Michael Morgan has cultivated the idea that the Oakland Symphony is for everyone,” writes Michael Zwiebach in Tuesday’s (3/26) San Francisco Classical Voice. “On a Friday evening … the Paramount Theatre was filled with an audience that included a fair number of children (many of them students, toting instruments, from the Symphony’s successful MUSE Orchestra). There were many African-Americans and a broad swath of Oaklanders…. Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest (1977) … occupied the second half….. Morgan found the ideal concert opener for Bernstein’s piece (which was conceived to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial) in Jessie Montgomery’s Banner (2014), a piece commissioned to celebrate the bicentennial of our national anthem…. Montgomery’s feat in this marvelous, nine-minute piece is to avoid most of the clichés that probably came to mind when you read the piece’s title…. It was a heady experience, well-performed by the orchestra…. Louise Farrenc’s Third Symphony in G Minor … is memorable because of striking melodies throughout the work and the rhythmic play, especially in the first movement, when syncopations and sudden cross accents create shifting metrical effects that energize the piece and power it through a furious coda.”

Posted March 29, 2019