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Margo Kline: Symphony in Fine Fettle with Guest Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers

Soloist adds star quality as the Santa Barbara ensemble lights up the Granada Theatre

By Margo Kline, Noozhawk Contributor | Published on 01.23.2012

In a marvelously eclectic program Saturday and Sunday, the Santa Barbara Symphony gave its first performances of 2012, with violinist Anne Akiko Meyersadding extra star quality.

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers shined in her weekend performances with the Santa Barbara Symphony.

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers shined in her weekend performances with the Santa Barbara Symphony.

The orchestra was in fine fettle on Sunday at the Granada Theatre, and Meyers was right in tune, playing with obvious gusto. She brought to her performance an extra note of bravado — she is eight months pregnant, while touring with her customary brilliance and what looked like energy to spare.

Maestro Nir Kabaretti led the orchestra through a vivid sampling of works, starting off with Johann Sebastian Bach’sBrandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. All of the strings were commanding, especially the violas, and this effervescent work was a good opener.

It was followed by Ernest Bloch’s 1925 Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra and Piano Obligato, a resolutely tonal work that Bloch composed as he was leaving his post as director of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Bloch’s students were heady with ideas about atonality and “modern” forms, and this was the composer’s illustration of how a tonal work could still fit in those “modern” times.

After intermission, the orchestra essayedJoseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 in G Minor, known as “The Hen.” This is one of Haydn’s “Paris Symphonies,” written in 1785 on the fly, as it were, while the composer was also serving as Prince Esterhazy’s opera producer and director in Hungary. Anyone who thinks the early composers were stuffy has only to listen to “The Hen” to appreciate Haydn’s humor and good nature.

Then came the eagerly anticipated performance by Meyers, who played The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, Rhapsodie de Concert for violin and orchestra. After a standing, shouting ovation, Meyers returned to play one encore, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.

The violinist would seem to have it all: striking beauty, a prodigious musical gift, and an education at the Colburn School of Performing Arts at Indiana Universityand, finally, the Juilliard School. She also had her first baby in 2010 and is preparing to welcome a new one practically any minute now.

To top it off, her violin is the Molitor, a Stradivarius named for one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s generals and reportedly owned originally by the Emperor himself. It could not be in better hands now.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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