May 27, 2018

Review: TSO Concert “Beautiful, Wonderful, Fantastic”



Review: TSO Concert “Beautiful, Wonderful, Fantastic”

The Topanga Symphony Orchestra (TSO), under the direction of Jerome Kessler, presented its winter concert at the Community House to a standing-room-only audience of classical music enthusiasts.

Following the concert, compliments were passed around like Halloween candy, with sweet and gleeful smiles of joy.

Kessler’s soloist for the concert was trumpeter Emily Frances Lawyer who gave an outstanding performance of Haydn’s Trumpet Concert in E flat. Kessler continues his commitment to keeping classical music alive in Topanga for all ages to enjoy by inviting young, up-and-coming, amazingly talented musicians to solo with the orchestra.

The concert began with Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 5 in B Flat.” Passionate and expressive describes the music of the Classical Romantic era.

Nothing compares to the sound of elegance in the strings and woodwinds as they interpret the music of the late 18th century.

Kessler’s 30 years as Music Director and Conductor of the Topanga Symphony brings familiarity and confidence to the performance of the musicians, raising the level of caring and attention and making the music sound just as beautiful in the 21st century.

The brass players entered the stage and soloist Emily Frances Lawyer stepped to the front ready for her debut.

With her music education behind her that culminated in a Masters of Music degree at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Ms. Lawyer beamed with the confidence of a musician that has dedicated most of her life to perfecting trumpet performance.

The only goal she had at that moment was to entertain audiences with her skills and joy in playing the trumpet.

The orchestra began the familiar melody of Haydn’s “E flat Trumpet Concerto,” a standard in the trumpet repertoire. From the first to the last, every note was beautiful and had the clarity of a master in her art. She made playing the trumpet look easy and her love for the instrument shone through in her fantastic performance.

The Topanga Community House has incredible surrounding vistas and the beautiful southern California weather made the intermission almost as much fun as the concert. Eating a brownie made with love by Board of Director Gaby Smith, having a little wine and visiting with other classical music fans in Topanga is what helps make for a great Sunday afternoon.

The concert continued with Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.” Kessler addressed the audience about the unusual piece explaining that Elgar wrote the piece about a few of his friends as a musical interpretation of the people, their personality and quirks that included Dorabella, a stutterer. The violin section musically demonstrated Elgar’s stuttering friend, and the whole orchestra demonstrated Elgar’s minister’s dog, Dan, who ran down to the river and how it sounded as he scrambled to get out.

Listening to the sometimes, short, whimsical and very descriptive musical passages evoked clear pictures of people. With solos from principal violist Horst Kuder, principal cellist Danna Schilling and principal oboist Margareet Ray, the characters of Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” expressed the complicated, stormy, workaholic, beautiful, and majestic qualities of his friends, his wife and himself. As the 14 variations played, images of people in our lives seemed to reflect those musically described in the life of Edward Elgar centuries earlier. Elgar relished the secrets he refused to expose in the piece.

Topanga Symphony President, Arthur Mintz reminded the audience that free concerts to the public are not free and in fact each concert costs about $5,000. Besides the awesome musicians, the Topanga Symphony has many residents who volunteer to keep the music here. Board Members Jack Smith and Michele Acker have worked tirelessly since the beginning to keep the musicians playing.

Symphony Manager Ernie Demontreux, Sound Engineer Neil Shaw and volunteer Steve Ray are among the many who are essential to helping the orchestra, and donations are critical for the continuation of the Symphony.

Please consider the Topanga Symphony in your gift giving this year. To become a Friend of the Topanga Symphony by either a donation of time or money or for more information, please go to the website at

The next concert is scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2013.