By Geoffrey Maingart
Santa Monica, CA(Hollywood Today)11/14/12/–Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High School was the setting for the opening and debut concert for conductor, Guido Lamell and the re-formed Santa Monica Symphony on Sunday November 11th. The season was prematurely cancelled when the previous conductor was let go. Lamell, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor of various local ensembles was given the opportunity to take over and rebuild the orchestra and season. This he did to standing ovations at the performance.
Over the last two months Guido brought in wonderful musicians to replace those that were lost and inspired those that remained from the previous ensemble. For his first program he chose some of the most famous pieces in the classical repertoire and the orchestra played with an inspired spirit from the first note. There was a fine pre-concert lecture by Russell Steinberg, Ph.D. at 6:30 PM that was well attended by those fortunate enough to hear this brilliant speaker.
The program began with the famous Egmont Overture by Beethoven, which was inspired by the play by Goethe. The dramatic opening was brilliant and as Guido explained to the audience before the performance, washes over you in waves of grief and ends with the triumph of Egmont’s memory. This was an appropriate choice as the orchestra itself was also living a triumphant comeback. The performance was as exciting as one could ever hope to hear. The audience responded in kind and Lamell was on his way to leaving his mark on this newly formed orchestra. This writer also had the pleasure of joining Guido in the 1st violin section.
Second on the program, we heard the Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a by Johannes Brahms. This special work by Brahms is considered by many to be one of the composer’s finest scores. The beauty of these variation and the simplicity of the theme gave Guido a chance to show off some of the find wind players that joined him for the performance. His tempos were perfectly chosen and the orchestra gave a lush performance throughout. The music is always beautiful and one seems to be humming the theme for days afterwards. The audience gave Guido and the orchestra a standing ovation and the main work was still to be performed.
Last on the program was the wonderful Scherazade by Rimsky Korsakov and the performance was simply brilliant. It was one of the most romantic interpretations and wildly exciting performances that I have ever been involved with. The piece is also the story of Sinbad and one of the most programmatic pieces in the orchestra literature. The composer makes extended use of the solo violin, in this case played by beautiful 19-year old concertmistress Heidi Hatch who played beautifully and brilliantly. She received, deservedly, many ovations at the end of the performance. Guido Lamell created a wonderful tone poem out of this performance and the orchestra responded with verve and inspiration as he passionately led the ensemble to dynamic heights. You could imagine being on the voyage with Sinbad and knowing the characters from the tales of the Sultan, Prince and Princess. The audience was literally screaming at the end.
They were rewarded with a rousing rendition of The Stars and Stripes forever March by Sousa in honor of Veterans Day . Here we had the brass and the piccolos standing in a rousing performance. This orchestra can only look to a brilliant future in the hands of this fine conductor. Please log onto their web site, http://www.smsymphony.org/, and plan on coming to the future concerts of the Santa Monica Symphony with Guido Lamell. The orchestra is also accepting donations and always looking for new sponsors. Bravo to all.