Last year, Elizabeth Pitcairn, the violinist with the famous red Stradivarius, brought star power to the Napa Valley Youth Symphony’s most important fundraiser, its annual Red Gala. In 2013, the headliner was Mark O’Connor, a fiddle superstar who straddles two worlds: classical and bluegrass. This year’s event will feature the internationally celebrated Spanish guitar virtuoso Angel Romero. The Youth Symphony’s Red Gala will be held this Saturday evening, April 16, at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville.
Universally acknowledged as a master of his instrument, Romero has performed with or conducted many of the world’s great orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Berlin Symphoniker. He’s had a prolific recording career and performed the scores of a number of films, including Robert Redford’s “The Milagro Beanfield War.”
On the phone last week, Youth Symphony Artistic Director Tristan Arnold said that the Lincoln Theater performance will begin with a short Vivaldi guitar concerto and close with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. In between, the Youth Symphony will perform two pieces by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.
“The Vivaldi guitar concerto is something that many people will recognize,” Arnold said, “especially the middle slow movement, which is some of the most beautiful music that Vivaldi ever wrote. It’s a chamber concerto and will be accompanied by the Napa Youth Chamber Ensemble. It’s only 10 string players along with Angel. In three movements, it goes from vigorous to expansive, beautiful music, and then back to a rousing conclusion.
“The closing piece, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, is probably the most popular guitar concerto that gets performed today. It’s also in three movements and technically very challenging in the guitar part. Written in the middle of the 20th century, it’s got a lot of interesting orchestral effects and is very different from the Vivaldi in the tonalities used. The middle movement is something that’s very recognizable because of the beautiful English horn melody that starts it off before the guitar takes over.”
Arnold spoke at length about the challenge of preparing for a performance with a guest artist whose time locally is limited. “When you get an artist of the caliber of Angel or Elizabeth or a Mark O’Connor, they’ll just come in the week before,” he said. “That’s usually all we’re able to accommodate. I think it benefits us that we’re in Napa and people look forward to the opportunity to be in the area for a week and make a little bit of a vacation out of it.
“We have to do most of the rehearsal without the soloist. We’ve been looking at this music since about February and prepping the two pieces that Angel will play on, as well as the rest of the program. We do as much work as we can just as the orchestra, and then he’ll come in for our Tuesday rehearsal before the performance. Hopefully there aren’t too many bumps in the road, but there will inevitably be some things to work out, so we have that Tuesday to work on those things.
“Last week we had a guest come in, a local guitarist, to play Romero’s major piece with us so that we could get used to how the guitar part fits in with the orchestral part. Other than that, we’ll just have to prepare musically as best we can and then work out all the kinks when Angel gets here.”
Saturday, April 16, 8 p.m. $25-$75. (VIP dinner plus concert, 5 p.m., $130.) Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. 707-944-9900. LincolnTheater.com.
Silo’s “Coffee House” is on the way.
On Thursday evenings in June, Silo’s will be featuring folk, Americana and Irish music performed by popular Bay Area artists, including the Evie Ladin Band (June 2), Kith & Kin (June 9), the LoWatters (June 16) and the Howell Mountain Boys (June 30). $15-$20. SilosNapa.com.