The Redwood Symphony, the mid-Peninsula’s leading community orchestra, begins its season Saturday, Sept. 22, with a concert featuring the three Bs, with a difference. Discarding Bach and Beethoven, it features the traditional third B, Brahms, with his grand and heroic Third Symphony, with two more recent composers.
Concertgoers at Cañada College will hear local pianist Tamami Honma in Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto, a bristly work resembling the Prokofiev concertos, and two orchestral works by renowned local composer Mason Bates. Bates writes jumpy post-minimalist music that, far from being intimidating, is genuinely fun to listen to.
Redwood’s season, programmed by music director Eric K, goes on being continually interesting. The Nov. 17 concert features Mahler’s epic song-symphony “Das Lied von der Erde.” Mahler is a specialty of Dr. K’s which he always performs well.
On Feb. 9, Redwood will tackle an angular Stravinsky masterpiece, his Symphony in Three Movements, plus a recently discovered Stravinsky curiosity, the early memorial piece he wrote for the funeral of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov — who will also be on the program with an orchestral excerpt from his opera, “The Tale of Tsar Saltan.”
For two performances on April 6 and April 7, Redwood will present, in semi-staged form, the first complete performance of an opera on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” composed by Kirke Mechem, a veteran local composer known especially for his choral works.
The season’s final subscription concert, on June 1, will include a recent film score by Danny Elfman, “Rabbit and Rogue,” plus a work paying tribute to jazz great Ray Charles written by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Du Yun. Further info is at redwoodsymphony.org.
The Peninsula Symphony under music director Mitchell Sardou Klein, also an important local community orchestra, begins its 70th season Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 with award-winning pianist Soyeon Kate Lee in Grieg’s well-loved Piano Concerto, plus Prokofiev’s exciting Fifth Symphony. Further concerts include a jazz extravaganza in January with Chris and Dan Brubeck, David Benoit and Taylor Eigsti; and Mahler’s Rückert Songs in May with operatic mezzo Renée Rapier.
The Peninsula Symphony plays most of its concerts twice, in San Mateo and Campbell. Info is at peninsulasymphony.org.
Other community orchestras have also announced their programs. The Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra, performing in Portola Valley and Los Altos, begins on Oct. 13 and 14 with North American composers Leonard Bernstein, Silvestre Revueltas and Paul Creston, plus Mozart. Later concerts will feature concertos with young competition winning violinist Christine Lee and noted soloists Coleman Itzkoff on cello and Helene Wickett on piano. Info is at mastersinfonia.org.
The New Millennium Chamber Orchestra, performing in San Mateo and Palo Alto, is giving two concerts this year: a collection of colorful tone-painting works including Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette” (theme music of the old Alfred Hitchcock TV show) on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 and a bouquet of bright and perky springtime concertos in June. Info is at nmchamberorchestra.org.
Professional chamber music in San Mateo County begins with the series Music at Kohl Mansion in Burlingame. This begins with local favorites the Alexander String Quartet on Oct. 14. It continues with quartets, trios and other ensemble music from visiting groups including the Israeli Chamber Project and Trio con Brio Copenhagen in music both classic and modern. Info is at musicatkohl.org.
Music@Menlo has reworked its winter series into educational events akin to its summer festival: A full-scale talk on the background of the music precedes a theme concert the following evening. This season’s first theme is music inspired by Shakespeare and Goethe, with the talk on Nov. 8 and the concert on Nov. 9, with a slate of regular Menlo artists including co-director David Finckel on cello in music by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms. A spring program in May will present folk elements in music by Dvorák and others. Info is at musicatmenlo.org.
There’s choral music to be heard from the Masterworks Chorale (masterworks.org) and the Ragazzi Boys Chorus (ragazzi.org) and much else of all kinds.