Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vallejo Symphony continues search for new conductor

(Originally published in the 11/4/15 edition)

    The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra will continue with the second round of its search to find a permanent conductor Sunday. The next new face to hold the baton? Christian Baldini.
   Baldini is a conductor who has led orchestras across the globe. Among the items on his resume: the Munich Radio Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. He has also worked with the North State Symphony in Chico and Redding and conducted 11 concerts with the San Francisco Symphony for the 2014-2015 season. 
   “I grew up with music,” Baldini said. “It was a crucial part of my life, even though I didn’t realize at the time it was going to be my profession. We had no professional musicians in the family, so it was more like a really fun thing to do.”
   Baldini soon learned to enjoy the challenge of being a conductor.
   “It’s a very sociable profession,” he said. ‘You need to learn to collaborate with people and inspire them to do your best. Whichever orchestra, group or singers you’re performing with, your goal is to get their very best energy so that we can come together in a cohesive way and provide a strong performance.”
   Baldini’s work as maestro has often been lauded. He recorded a CD with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soprano Elizabeth Watts titled “Mozart: Opera Arias and Overtures,” which was named by BBC Music Magazine as the recording of the month.
   “It was a wonderful surprise,” Baldini said. “We musicians work hard on every project that comes our way.” 
   Most recently, Baldini did conducting duties for Mercury Soul, a project by DJ and composer Mason Bates that combines classical music with electronica. The collective performed at San Francisco’s Ruby Skye club on Oct. 2.
   “It was really exciting,” Baldini said. “ It’s a very different kind of audience. As musicians, we need to be thinking about not just what we perform and how we perform it but for whom. Whatever we can do to expand the interests and constituencies of every community is very important.”
   Baldini plans to bring a similar sense of variety to Sunday’s concert. The program, “Poetic Genius,” will begin with the debut of a new six-minute piece, “Satellite,” by Swedish composer and Berkeley resident Mika Pelo.
   “The orchestra hasn’t done a lot of new music, so this is nice,” Baldini said. “(Pelo) is a composer with a great ear for color and texture.”
   The evening will continue with Sacramento-based soprano Carrie Hennessey performing arias  from the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppe Verdi. 
   Finally, the night will conclude with a performance of Robert Schumann’s “Spring Symphony.”
   “That’s a piece I feel very close to,” Baldini said. “Schumann is one of my favorite composers, and I noticed that the Vallejo Symphony has not performed much of his music, so this is a nice occasion to bring one of the great symphonies into their venue.”
   Baldini says the three parts are a way to showcase who he is as a composer.
   “We will showcase one of the wonderful symphonies by Schumann, innovation with the new piece and also a great operatic tradition with a wonderful soprano,” he said. 
   Overall, Baldini wants audience members to treat the concert as they would reading a good novel. 
   “If it’s a really good book, it’s something you’re going to be thinking about while you’re reading it,” he said. “Even after you’ve finished the book, it was something that made a strong impression on you. The concert is very similar, and in that respect, it’s something that makes your imagination travel to different places.”
   “You can sense a lot of excitement, beauty, sadness and love in the music,” he added.
   “Poetic Genius” will be performed at 3 p.m., Nov. 8 at the Hogan High School auditorium, located on 850 Rosewood Ave. Tickets are available at


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