Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vallejo Symphony to feature final conductor audition

(Originally published in the 1/28/16 edition)

   In its search to find a new permanent conductor, the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra has reached its third and final audition. On Sunday, Marc Taddei will be showcasing three powerful pieces for the concert “The Composer’s Muse.”
   Taddei was appointed as music director of Orchestra Wellington in New Zealand in 2007 and has conducted every professional orchestra in the country. He also has conducted many of the major Australian orchestras, the Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong and the New York City Ballet. 
   Taddei began playing music in fifth grade and grew to love everything about the art form. 
   “It’s kind of a cliche but this idea of music expressing the unexpressable rings true,” he said. “In terms of the profession, what I like about it is very disparate people come together, and they have very little in common except a love of music, and they’re able to cooperate when there’s room in the concert platform to create something of beauty. For me, that’s a great aspect of music, and almost a microcosm of what society could be.”
   He has also had experience conducting for Hollywood and international movies. Taddei recorded for the soundtrack of last year’s holiday hit “Krampus” as well as Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of “King Kong.” He also recorded for the New Zealand films “Under the Mountain” and “Dean Spanley” as well as the British Channel 4 film “Wagner’s Ring,” based on Richard Wagner’s opera cycle “The Ring of the Nibelung.”
   “It’s quite fun,” he said of the process. “It’s quite technical in terms of there being a monitor, a click track and other visual aids for the conductor. In a way, it’s an oppressive situation because the orchestra and producers will have limited time to put a movie together.”
   He also noted that conducting for live cinema could be quite challenging, especially for silent movies which he says do not have the same level of editing expertise as movies today. 
   “Silent movies, you conduct as the movie is playing without any click track,” he said. “The only visual indication you have is from the movie itself, and that’s fine. It takes a little bit of practice to do it. You have to go through the score in your head while watching the movie.”
   When Taddei saw an opening for a conductor with the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra, he applied. 
   “He wanted a regular post in California, and he chose us,” Vallejo Symphony Director Tim Zumwalt said.
   “I am an American even though I’ve lived in New Zealand for quite some time now,” he said. “I would like to return to my homeland and work with a fine orchestra such as Vallejo.”
   Additionally, Taddei’s brother and sister live in Oakland, so he figured it would be a good way to be closer to them. He also is impressed with Vallejo Symphony Orchestra’s professionalism.
   “What’s especially attractive about Vallejo to me, along with many other orchestras in the Bay Area, is that they have access to world-class musicians,” he said. “These orchestras have very high standards, and Vallejo is no exception to that.”
   “The Composer’s Muse” will feature lesser-known pieces by three legendary composers. The show will begin with a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s 1928 ballet “Apollo.”
   “It’s one of the most serene works of modernism,” Taddei said. “It’s a work that introduced Stravinsky to the greatest choreographer of the 20th century, George Balanchine, and because of this work, the two of them were able to collaborate for the rest of Stravinsky’s life.”
   The evening will continue with Ludwig van Beethoven’s song cycle “To the Distant Beloved.”
   “I wanted to do a work of Beethoven’s, but I didn’t want to be so obvious,” Taddei said. 
   Taddei described the piece as very influential to early Romantic composers like Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. 
   The final piece will be Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” 
   “Tchakovsky was the kind of composer that really brought western schooling to the folk idiom that composers were experimenting with in Russia at this time,” Taddei said. “Tchaikovsky had both the genius and the inspiration and the training to marry the German technique with Russian folk songs.” 
   Taddei described all three pieces as disparate masterpieces that encapsulate musical history. Additionally, there will be a performance by San Francisco-based baritone singer Haleigh Adams during the show.
   Zumwalt said the board will go on retreat after the final concert and then decide who will be its new permanent conductor.

   “The Composer’s Muse” will be performed 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Hogan High School auditorium, located on 850 Rosewood Ave. Tickets can be purchased at For more information, visit

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