Youth remembers beauty

Many people are too young to remember that era before rock and, later, hip-hop dominated the musical landscape. But it’s true. Look at the charts from the 1960s, for example, and you’re just as likely to find a Broadway-cast album at the No. 1 spot as something by the Beatles or the Stones. And most musical coverage, in newspapers, was of “legitimate” musical events—symphony concerts and piano recitals, along with the occasional jazz review from the resident hepster.

It is this now-obscure world, dominated by classical repertoires of European heritage, that the second annual Jammies “classical” concert visited last Sunday night. (The second, “contemporary” show will be held at the Crest Theatre on Saturday, February 28.)

The evening started, oddly enough, with the C.K. McClatchy Marching Band standing in the rain outside the University of California, Davis, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Though the program listed the repertoire from the musical Miss Saigon, one song had a familiar, East Asian-sounding riff; it turned out to be the White Stripes’ recent hit “Seven Nation Army.” Minutes later, the band marched into Jackson Hall to begin the concert, and that was it for modernity.

After introductions from the evening’s emcee, News10 chief meteorologist Elissa Lynn, the two-act program got underway with three selections—one apiece from Saint-Saëns, Rimsky-Korsakov and Verdi—by the Solano County Youth Orchestra. Those were followed by cellist Iris Kan’s emotional reading of Bach’s Suite No. 2 in D minor. The Granite Bay Madrigal Choir followed, with three sterling a cappella numbers.

Then, there were three short speeches, from SN&R owner Jeff vonKaenel; Stanford University sophomore and self-confessed “band geek” Brian Chang; and Davis High School Music Department Chairman Fredrick Lange, whom Chang introduced before announcing that Lange was receiving this year’s Jammies award for outstanding contribution to high-school music education. Lange conducted the brass- and woodwind-dominated Davis High Symphonic Band through three selections, one apiece by Jan Van der Roost, Andrew Boysen Jr. and Guy Woolfenden.

After a short intermission, the Sacramento Youth Chorus sang three (mostly) a cappella songs, two by John Leavitt and one by Alexandru Pascanu. Pianist Christine Hsii followed, with pristine renditions of Liszt and Rachmaninoff excerpts. Soprano Ariana Uriz, with piano accompaniment, sang three short pieces, two from Mozart and one from William Schuman. The evening’s program concluded with the Sacramento Youth Symphony playing a fine version of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.”

Of course, I work for the newspaper that produced the Jammies, and thus anything I say about them could be construed as "advertorial." However, as an independent voice, I will swear on a stack of John Coltrane albums that the concert—although slightly more Eurocentric than I tend to prefer—offered a fine array of talented young performers.