Symphony of the Vines is putting down roots

North County group now has the Templeton Performing Arts Center for a home base

slinn@thetribunenews.comSeptember 12, 2013 

Symphony of the Vines.

COURTESY PHOTO

As Symphony of the Vines enters its fourth season, the North County chamber orchestra is in a celebratory mood.

On Sunday, baritone Dan Gibbs will join Symphony of the Vines for Celebrating American Song, a tribute to American composers Aaron Copland and Charles Ives.

In just a few years, Symphony of the Vines has grown from a fledgling band of music lovers to a nonprofit corporation with a new development director, Paso Robles City Council member Steve Martin.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been around for three full seasons already,” said Gregory Magie, the group’s founder and music director. “In terms of what we’ve been able to achieve artistically. …It’s been wonderful.”

However, he added, “We’re still trying to really establish a firm base.”

According to Magie, the symphony’s efforts to expand its audience have been limited by low advertising resources and the lack of a permanent home.

Sunday’s concert, Celebrating American Song, will be the symphony’s first concert at its new home base, the Templeton Performing Arts Center.

“It’s very helpful to have one place for people to look for us,” Magie said.

Magie said the group is also battling stereotypes about the North County cultural scene.

“We’re fighting against the perception that there’s nothing of high quality north of the (Cuesta) Grade,” he said, adding that a Symphony of the Vines concert soon changes doubters’ minds.

Sunday’s Celebrating American Song show features a patriotic program that recalls our nation’s musical past.

“In the first half of the 20th century, America was really looking for what we could identify as our sound,” Magie explained. “Copland in particular really established an American sound.”

Two Copland pieces are on the program — “Appalachian Spring,” which finds the composer quoting the classic Shaker melody “Simple Gifts,” and “Old American Songs,” which includes a minstrel song about Ohio River boatmen, a tongue-in-cheek campaign song and a cute children’s song complete with animal noises.

Symphony of the Vines also features two Ives pieces. “Three Places in New England” contains musical references to hymns, patriotic songs and Civil War and Revolutionary War marching tunes. Meanwhile, “Charlie Rutlage” tells the tragic tale of a Texas cowboy.

“Charles Ives was a real individual and very experimental,” Magie said.

“He tried all sorts of techniques in his music that either no one else was doing or (that) were very cutting edge,” the music director added, such as dramatically altering rhythms or using two keys simultaneously (also known as polytonality).

On Oct. 26, Symphony on the Vines will celebrate Atascadero’s centennial with the world premiere of “Of Time’s Many Waters’ by Atascadero High School alumnus Darin Alvord. The concert will be held at the Atascadero Lake Pavilion.

“I think people will really love it. It’s very accessible and very pleasing,” Magie said, describing the piece as a musical walk through Atascadero’s evolution.

“All types of events and eras are depicted in the music,” he added, tied together by Alvord’s overarching theme.

The symphony returns Oct. 27 to the Templeton Performing Arts Center to perform “Of Time’s Many Waters” as well as Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” from his famed Ring Cycle and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 5,” composed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Reformation.

January brings a Templeton Performing Arts Center concert featuring Joseph Haydn’s “Symphony No. 22,” also known as “The Philosopher,” as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante” and George Frederic Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast.” And April finds the symphony teaming up with Canzona and the Cuesta North County Chorus at Mission San Miguel.

Magie is confident that this season’s audience-pleasing slate of programs will help Symphony of the Vines continue to flourish.

“If we can just get the word out and begin to build momentum and a solid base, I think we’re really well on our way,” he said.

IF YOU GO

Celebrating American Song
3 p.m. Sunday
Templeton Performing Arts Center, 1200 S. Main St., Templeton
$30, discounts for seniors and students
235-0687 or http://www.symphonyofthevines.org

Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907. Stay updated by following @shelikestowatch on Twitter.

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