story: Sandie Tillery
North State Symphony Kicks Off Its 10th Season
A cacophony of conversation floats through the auditorium before every North State Symphony concert. Dr. Kyle Wiley Pickett, music director and conductor, greets early birds from the apron with a brief overview of the production ahead. He illuminates the audience about compositions, composers, soloists and orchestral interpretations. As he exits stage left, the audience again buzzes with growing anticipation.
Musicians wander on stage. They chat with one another while finding their places and arranging sheet music. Some in the audience are caught off guard when applause erupts. Terrie Baune, concertmaster, approaches from the wings to take her place before the members of the orchestra. Violin tucked neatly under her chin, Baune offers the first notes by which the others tune, her instrument singing to the swell of dissonance until that moment when, to her ear, all seems right. Applause follows her to the place of honor in the first chair of violins. The lights dim and the maestro enters, musicians and audience both thundering their welcome as he steps up to the podium. Instantly, silence reigns as the maestro raises his baton.
Kicking off its 10th season on October 2 and 3, the North State Symphony plans to electrify audiences in Redding and Chico with a full calendar showcasing both classical and contemporary orchestral works under the banner, “A Season of Masterworks.” From the first to the fourth concert in its subscription series, audiences will enter a time machine of musical exploration. Throughout the season, solos by featured orchestra members, as well as a guest appearance from world renowned pianist Alexander Tutunov in May, offer a sampling from “virtuosos of the highest order,” says Pickett. Local composer Dr. Dan Pinkston, who chairs the Simpson University Music Department, culminates 20 years of study and training in his first full symphony, commissioned by the North State Symphony and making its world debut in Chico, then Redding in November, proving classical music appeals not just to the mature crowd. Young Artist Audition winners and local students Molly Mahoney, vocalist, and Anthoni Polcari, cellist, will perform with the orchestra in February. Two chamber music recitals also fill dates on the calendar spotlighting first the wind section of the orchestra and later presenting a selection of “Classics of Three Eras” performed by a select group of North State Symphony musicians. Members of the orchestra perform at various events throughout the year as part of an effort to contribute to their communities in both Chico and Redding, as well as to raise financial support.
Pickett has spent the past 10 years creating what he considers a “truly professional orchestra of the highest quality and caliber.” Pickett credits Baune for developing the string section into a skilled and technically astute ensemble. As she has added her articulation (technical nuances) to Pickett’s interpretative (creative) decisions, the orchestra has matured and grown and continues to receive outstanding reviews. When Baune plays concerts with the North State Symphony, she says, “I know everyone on stage is giving 100 percent to the joy of making good music. It refreshes me as a musician.” She credits Pickett with the high morale of the orchestra.
Gene Nichols, chairman of the board for the North State Symphony, echoes Baune’s sentiments regarding Pickett’s leadership. All involved with the symphony seem passionately united in their efforts to bring the best symphonic music and musicians to the North State. During their annual Directors and Regents dinner in June, keynote speaker Mike Warren, president and CEO of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, punctuated the value of the arts in any healthy city. Nichols agrees and proudly touts the rich musical legacy and contribution the North State Symphony adds to the culture of Chico and Redding.
Pickett attributes the continuing health of the North State Symphony to a collaborative effort that includes phenomenal musicians, an active and supportive board of directors, enthusiastic auxiliaries in both sponsoring communities and a unique partnership with Chico State University that provides both creative and administrative resources. Like many other regional symphonies, it has had to tighten its belts. According to Executive Director Keith Herritt, however, ticket sales have remained steady and “our donors have been very kind in keeping us part of their lives.”
A musical journey begins…the sweeping sound of cellos unfolds a lilting love poem. From wondrous waltz strains to a rollicking peasant dance finale, the audience is on its feet as maestro and musicians acknowledge one another, taking their bows. Thus ends a shared adventure, an emotional trip through Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony. Programs rustle as guests discuss the next concert. Expectations soar.
The North State Symphony shines as brightly as any regional orchestra in the nation. Join neighbors, friends and relatives this season at the symphony.
Concert, ticket and sponsor information: www.northstatesymphony.org Chico concert tickets: Laxson Auditorium University Box Office, (530) 898-6333 Redding concert tickets: Cascade Theatre Box Office, (530) 243-8877.