Redwood Symphony, Mahler 8, and the meaning of amateur orchestras

Posted on: July 13, 2016

“Eric Kujawsky is the director, founder, and inspiration behind the Redwood Symphony, which he has recently nicknamed ‘the Bernie Sanders of Symphonies’ because of their steadfast commitment to a progressive approach that embraces ambitious and contemporary music,” writes Mark MacNamara in Tuesday’s (7/12) San Francisco Classical Voice. “The Symphony will perform Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in E-Flat Major, the ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ on July 30, at 8 p.m. in the San Mateo Performing Arts Center.… Kujawsky has mustered a volunteer force totaling 300, including the orchestra and perhaps 200 singers.… Members have always included long-ago music majors, ex-ensemblists, professionals, retired or not, and a panoply of Silicon Valley types.… Asked the difference between the sound of his amateur orchestra and that of, let’s say, the San Francisco Symphony, Kujawsky replied … ‘I liken it to the difference between going to a professional restaurant where every dish is perfectly made every time, and going to a cafe where they serve lovingly made, home-cooked meals, which are delicious but not always perfectly composed.… For me, it’s a point of great pride that this is a truly amateur orchestra.… these are people doing this because they truly love it.’ ”

Posted July 13, 2016