Composer Brian Kehlenbach made classical music relevant for newcomers by debuting a difficult upbeat and modern piece, Beside the Golden Door, at the sold-out Spring Spectacular Concert in Phillips Hall March 25.
Conductor Binh Vu created and conducted the show that night and said the main reason classical music has been declining the last two decades is that musicians do not have enough new music.
“Now classical music is coming back because we have new symphony like the the one Dr. Kehlenbach made.” Vu said.
Kehlenbach’s original piece was inspired by the poem engraved at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.
The 35-member Santiago Canyon College Community Orchestra began the show by performing Symphony No. 1 composed by L.V. Beethoven and O Del Mio Dolce Ardor composed by Cristoforo Gluck and was accompanied by singer Bonita Nahoum Jaros, a longtime SAC professor an experienced mezzo-soprano.
“You want to interpret the songs, memorize them, and to memorize these songs you have to internalize them so you know every word, how to phrase it, and what you are trying to convey,” Jaros said.
Jaros also performed Habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet and Bésame Mucho by Consuelo Velázquez.
Piano and music history professor Jungwon Jin then entered the stage in a long red gown and sat at the college’s two year old Steinway to perform Piano Concerto in A Minor composed by Robert Schumann.
Vietnamese-American singer and recent Cal State Fullerton graduate Tam-Dan(accent) Belinda Gonzalez performed a piece that was true to her bicultural upbringing, singing a popular Vietnamese song that had been arranged into a classical piece.
“Vietnamese is a language that does not lend itself easily to singing classically,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez performed Trở Về Dòng Sông Tuổi Thơ by Hoàng Hiệp.
Thirty-seven choir members from both colleges then joined the the orchestra on stage and performed three songs by composer Franz Schubert, which was conducted by Elliot Jones, a choir and voice professor at SAC.
“I’ve never really heard a city college sound so good, and Binh’s a really good conductor. It really was a pleasure to see the whole performance,” said Thomas Zink, who arranged the choir’s performance.