Singing into summer

BAFFA performs ‘Weather’ concert


As summer fast approaches, the Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts (BAFFA) Chorus and Symphony Orchestra welcomed the increasingly sunny days with their concert “Weather” on June 8.

The BAFFA Chorus, directed by Martha Campanile and accompanied on piano by Marciela McGrath, sang melodies from 20th-century musicals, ending with a spectacular rendition of “Over the Rainbow” alongside the Symphony Orchestra, directed by Bradley S. Hartman.

After a brief intermission, the orchestra performed the “Helios Overture,” Opus 17 by Carl Nielsen, a piece that translated the feelings of roaming on a sunny day into music, followed by “Symphony No. 6” by Beethoven and ending with music from “Frozen.”

The concert was Hartman’s last with BAFFA since he’ll be busy completing his doctoral program in composition and arranging at Five Towns College next year.

“This concert’s been a chance for me to reflect, and be very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had with the orchestra,” Hartman said. “It truly was a joy making music with so many wonderful people, and I’m going to miss them dearly, but I’m sure our paths will cross again very soon.”

Rain washed over the first tunes, with the chorus singing “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” from “The Fantasticks” followed by “Singin’ in the Rain.” But the clouds began to part when they transitioned into “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, “Come Rain or Come Shine” from the musical “St. Louis Woman,” and finishing with “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

With the thematic rainstorm coming and then going, it was inevitable that a musical rainbow would shine across the stage as the symphony orchestra joined with the chorus in playing “Over the Rainbow,” leaving the audience with goosebumps after beautifully building up to the memorable melody.

When the applause ended, the symphony orchestra played the “Helios Overture,” Opus 17 by Carl Nielsen. The concert overture imagines the sun looking over Greece as it rises above the Aegean Sea, with melodies from the woodwinds, horns, and strings welcoming the start of a new day.

A tumultuous storm starts the next piece, Movement IV- Allegro, from Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6.” The strings pace quickly, depicting rolling thunder, followed by raindrops falling, thunder clapping, and high winds roaring. The next movement, Allegretto, brings calm after the storm in a tune of thanksgiving, where each section impressively stays on tempo despite playing drastically different parts.

BAFFA president Donna Smosky then came onto the stage to present the Jacqueline C. Palmer Awards to bassoonist Matthew Gaudio and tubist Christopher Haliniski. The $500 scholarship is awarded annually to BAFFA musicians graduating high school and pursuing music in college.

Hartman then surprised the audience by returning to the conductor’s podium wearing an Olaf costume from the movie “Frozen,” finishing the concert by leading the group in music from the film. Before exiting, percussionist Yvonne Sing gave Hartman flowers on behalf of the whole orchestra as they wished the conductor good luck and a successful career. 


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