Orinda Orchestra Members Perform at St. Stephen’s Church

(Courtesy of Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra)
Five members of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra are Orindans. (L-R) Barbara Hodgkinson, oboe, Betsy Barsamian-Teman, violin, Lisa Chow, violin, Nancy Loomba, flute, and Yuka Yoshie, viola are slated to perform Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church Episcopal Church, 66 St. Stephens Dr.

    The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra kicks off the holiday season with their Dec. 4 concert under the direction of Geoffrey Gallegos at 4 p.m.  
    Titled “Rhapsodies and Reveries,” it features George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as well as a “Christmas at the Movies” medley and Fantasia, based on Greensleeves
    The concert is at the newly remodeled sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 66 St. Stephens Dr.
     Gallegos, a prominent fixture in the San Francisco Bay Area music community for over 35 years, served as associate conductor of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, assistant conductor of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra and conductor with the Golden Gate Opera. He began his music lessons on the trumpet at age nine.
    Five members of the orchestra are from Orinda: Lisa Chow, violin; Betsy Barsamian-Teman, violin; Yuka Yoshie, viola; Nancy Loomba, flute; and Barbara Hodgkinson, oboe and English horn.
    Chow started violin lessons when she was seven-years-old.
    “My mother, who played the cello, wanted her children to play stringed instruments,” said Chow. “When we were kids, my sisters and I used to play carols for the family at Christmas. I’m happy there is a group that still allows me to play.”
    Hodgkinson said she’s enjoyed playing in chamber groups and orchestras throughout her life.
    “The Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra is enjoyable for me both socially and musically,” she said. “Geoffrey Gallegos is a wonderful conductor who has a great rapport with the musicians and the audience. The orchestra members are fun, interesting people as well as accomplished musicians. It’s a joy to make music with them, and I appreciate everyone who comes to hear us perform.”
    Gallegos added, “The impetus for this program is to offer a Pops-oriented program with a holiday bent that features beautiful and ‘rhapsodic’ music. It will highlight soloists Lisa Canter in the Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto and Paul Schrage rendering the Rhapsody in Blue.”
    Gallegos noted that the original version was written expressly for Paul Whiteman’s smaller jazz orchestra in 1924, but with a more jazzy orchestration reflecting the jazz age. The program also includes music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Claude Debussy and Franz List.
    The Chamber Orchestra is comprised of volunteer musicians ranging in age from teenagers to seniors. Their involvement demonstrates their commitment to lifelong learning and growth and a desire to offer entertainment and enrichment to their communities.
    Formed in the late 1970s, the orchestra has established a robust presence in the county, continuing the tradition of providing affordable, high-caliber performances. They have performed at the El Campanil Theatre in Antioch and at special events for Rossmoor residents. A favorite is a sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” at various locations in the county.
    Purchase tickets at www.ContraCostaChamberOrchestra.org. Adults are $20, seniors, $15 and students $7, or purchase at the door.  

Bobbie Dodson can be reached at bobbiedodson109@gmail.com.

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