Curtis Park resident Michael Neumann is a deep gentleman of many talents.
Neumann is the artistic director and conductor for both the Sacramento Youth Symphony and the Folsom Symphony.
For the past nine years, the latter symphony has grown in quality to the delight of audiences throughout the region. Musicians from the symphony hail from every neighborhood in Sacramento: Pocket-Greenhaven, Land Park, Arden, East Sacramento and elsewhere.
Neumann puts a great deal of time into considering each work the symphony will perform. A fine artist himself, he carefully develops concerts of depth and complexity that delight both the newcomer and the jaded audiophile.
This December’s winter concerts are a perfect case in point. The Folsom Symphony will host two holiday concerts that will gladden hearts on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16. The repertoire for “Of Fate & Joy” ranges from contemplative to festive to joyous.
According to Webster’s Common School Dictionary of 1892, “fate” is considered to be “a decree; (an) inevitable necessity…supposed by the ancients to determine the course of human life.”
Few would argue that, in its strictest definition, all mortal life is “fated” to have a beginning and an end. Not a jot can be changed about it. Somber, indeed.
Between those fixed points in time are all the things that go into life: good and evil, happiness and sadness.
And that, according to the sages, is where mere mortals have true power and freedom. Because happiness is a choice humans can make along the way.
Composers and poets throughout the ages struggled with these weighty matters. Many chose “Joy” as a personal statement of faith, and as a testimony to freely choosing the good in life. Such choices, they felt, bring out the best in the human spirit. They are heroic.
Appropriately enough, the concerts kick off with Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio Overture.” First performed in 1805 Vienna, this opera was risky, given Beethoven’s political outlook. After all, the Napoleonic Wars were scarcely two years old. “Fidelio” musically tells a tale of personal sacrifice, heroism and eventual triumph…with an underlying struggle for liberty and justice. Ludwig could have lost his head – literally.
Next on the program is George Frederic Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks.” A secular piece of music, it was commissioned by England’s King George II to celebrate a great hope for peace: the 1749 signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle. The music is Handel at his most spectacular.
The treaty? It didn’t quite pan out the way the crowned heads of Europe had hoped. Little was accomplished in the end. Fate stepped in.
The evening continues with powerful works by Rimsky-Korsakov (“Capriccio Espagnol”), Brahms (“Schicksalslied,” accompanied by the Folsom High School Chamber Singers), Johann Strauss Sr. (“Radetzky March”) and his son (“Tritsch Tratsch Polka”). Popular composer Leroy Anderson’s work “Christmas Festival” will put audiences in the holiday mood.
Handel makes another appearance with his magnificent work from “Messiah” – the “Hallelujah” chorus.
Happiness, it is said, is not a destination. It is something one encounters along the way. One can choose to be joyful, or to be otherwise. In celebration of this fact, each member of the audience is invited to sing along to traditional carols near the conclusion of each concert.
Webster’s little dictionary from 1892 defines “joy” as “gladness, delight, exultation…bliss.” Intangible delights that the Folsom Symphony and Neumann specialize in every December.
“Of Fate & Joy” will be performed two days only, on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Performances are held at Folsom Lake College’s Three Stages Theater. Get your tickets soon…these concerts sell out every year. Call (916) 916-608-6888 or visit www.threestages.net. Also visit www.folsomsymphony.com.
Curtis Park resident Michael Neumann is a deep gentleman of many talents.
At this season’s opening concert for the Folsom Symphony, Maestro Michael Neumann conducted a brief experiment with the audience.
“Listen to this passage from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Symphony No. 4,” he told them before the symphony performed a few brief phrases of the piece.
The music was beautiful.
“Now, close your eyes,” the Sacramento conductor said. “And this time, I want you to think of someone you love very much…someone you have not seen in a very long time.”
The symphony repeated the music. But this time, eyes were tearing up – and many were reaching for the Kleenex.
Neumann’s point to the audience that evening was this: Music is able to communicate on a variety of levels. It has the unique ability to reach into the deepest parts of the human soul.
February’s annual “Valentine’s” concert is appropriately dubbed “Music of the Heart.” But this year’s performance will have an additional component: the symphony is mourning the loss of one of its own.
On Dec. 15, Alexander Ashton, the assistant principal cellist, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 27. He was a founding member of the symphony, much beloved by his colleagues. Mr. Ashton was a member of the Sacramento Youth Symphony Premier Orchestra for eight years, and he also played with the Sacramento Valley Choral Society for seven years. He was a member of the Broken Iris and Green Audio, both popular Sacramento area bands.
The symphony will dedicate a selection from the Feb. 11 performance to Mr. Ashton’s memory. Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” was dedicated by the composer “to my friends pictured within.” Composed from 1898 to 1899, this work has fascinated musicians ever since. What is the mystery about the people portrayed in the music? Elgar said there was a hidden theme that is “not played,” but no one guessed it during his lifetime. He took the secret with him to the grave. It is entirely appropriate that this most popular of Elgar’s works be dedicated to Alex Ashton.
In keeping with the theme of immortal love, Neumann will conduct the symphony through 11 soul-stirring and romantic works from both the classical and popular repertoire.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” kicks things off. (Listen for the “beating hearts” leitmotif during the love theme). Surprisingly, it took this famous work some time to become popular. It was first performed in 1870. Tchaikovsky revised it twice, and the final version we know today premiered in 1886.
Audience members will recognize Gilbert Fauré’s “Pavane, Op. 50” from the 2010 version of the film, “Ice Castles.”
Most students of the piano have played Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Natsuki Fukasawa returns to the Folsom Symphony to perform this work as a guest soloist. She will also perform the second movement of Wolfgang A. Mozart’s “Concerto No. 21,” which audience members may recognize from the Swedish film “Elvira Madigan.”
After intermission, the Folsom Symphony will perform Mozart’s overture to “The Marriage of Figaro,” followed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on the G String.” Interestingly, this early 1700s work by Bach was the very first work of Bach to be recorded, in 1902.
The second soloist of the evening is the Folsom Symphony’s own Curtis Kidwell. He will perform his own arrangement of Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” – the theme from the 1986 film “The Mission.”
Frequent goers to the Folsom Symphony will quickly recognize Concertmaster Anita Felix. She will be the third soloist of the evening, performing the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto No. 1 ‘Romance.’”
Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” will be performed, followed by the theme from the 1970 film, “Love Story” by Francis Lai.
The concluding performance of the evening is Bedřich Smetana’s “Moldau,” which was first performed in 1874.
Audience members can expect a performance of the first order at this concert that has so much significance for members of the Folsom Symphony. Always thinking of others, these talented musicians will also be performing for one of their own. And that is music from the heart.
“Music of the Heart” will be performed one evening only, on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The main Three Stages theater at the Folsom Lake College Performing Arts Complex is located at 10 College Parkway (just off East Bidwell Street) in Folsom. Parking is free.
Single tickets are $25 to $55. Discounted season tickets and student rates are available. To purchase, call (916) 608-6888 or visit www.folsomsymphony.com.
As the days grow shorter, the Folsom Symphony opens its eighth season with an evening of unusual works by three masters, dedicated to bringing “Light Out of the Darkness.”
Under the baton of Maestro Michael Neumann, the members of the symphony will present an evening of music that isn’t heard every day by classical masters whose names are well recognized: Brahms, von Webber and Tchaikovsky.
Three pieces will be performed: the “Tragic Overture, Opus 81” (Brahms), the “Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73” (von Webber) and the “Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36” (Tchaikovsky).
The “Tragic Overture, Opus 81” is an unusual piece in the body of work by Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897). It is performed rarely. The two abrupt fortissimo chords that open the piece immediately told audiences in 1880 that this piece is an unusual one for Brahms. Usually, Brahms works open with a central theme. The “Tragic” does not. It is, rather, an exploration of the raw human emotions that can be evoked with music. Written as a companion piece to the “Academic Festival Overture” which was a collection of cheerful student songs, Brahms himself wrote, “one laughs, the other cries.”
To put it another way, the “Tragic” takes audiences on a walk into the darkness. This music is intense, focused and moving.
Next on the evening’s program is a gem of a composition for clarinet: the “Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73” by Carl Maria von Weber. It was written for clarinetist Heinrich Bärmann, who was much more famous than von Weber, in 1811.
Von Weber is referred to by some as the father of Romantic Period German opera. He came from a musical family. In fact, his first cousin, Constanze Weber (1763-1842), was married to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
The “Clarinet Concerto” is a sweet work that leads us closer to the light.
Clarinetist Charles Messersmith headlines with the Folsom Symphony in the performance of this work. A native Californian, he performs regularly with the Folsom Symphony. He also performs in Charleston with local, national, and internationally renowned chamber musicians as well as for Piccolo Spoleto programs in the spring. In the summers he performs in Virginia at the Wintergreen Music Festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has been featured as soloist with the Charleston Symphony on numerous occasions, most recently performing the Copland Clarinet concerto, and the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.
The concluding work of the evening, the “Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893). In a rather unusual step, the composer wrote a program about the music in this piece. Tchaikovsky wrote that the opening of the symphony was about Fate.
The theme of the first movement, according to Tchaikovsky, that “all life is an unbroken alternation of hard reality with swiftly passing dreams and visions of happiness …” He went on: “No haven exists … Drift upon that sea until it engulfs and submerges you in its depths.”
One certainly can feel caught up in the maelstrom of emotions that the “Symphony No. 4” evokes. However, such a journey has a tendency to bring out the best in humanity also: the everlasting struggle for that which is good.
The “Symphony No. 4” has been described as “loud,” “savage,” and “evocative.” It received harsh criticism when it débuted in 1878. However, it remains one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire today.
“Light Out of the Darkness” promises to be uncommon and excellent in every way – a program in keeping with the Folsom Symphony’s reputation as the premier orchestra of the Folsom Lake Region.
“Light Out of the Darkness” will be performed one evening only, on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Three Stages (at the Folsom Lake College Performing Arts Complex) is located at 10 College Parkway – just off East Bidwell Street – in Folsom. Parking is free.
Single tickets are $25 to $55. Season tickets, as well as reduced cost tickets for students and seniors are available. To purchase, call (916) 357-6718 or visit www.folsomsymphony.com.
William MacSems, who lives in Sacramento, is one of the composers whose music is being represented at the concert. “Westward Ho,” MacSems said, is a composition of four short movements celebrating the western migration in the 19th century.
The first movement is a square dance, the second one references a cowboy, the third one is a folk song and the last movement is the conclusion of the westward migration. MacSems said a narrator introduces each piece, with music in the background.
“I originally wrote it for band,” MacSems said. “It sounds a little more classy with the orchestra.”
MacSems said he had previously composed the folk song used in “Westward Ho” when he wrote a piece for the opera “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” which played in Nevada City. He said the square dance is from a show he wrote in 1962 about the railroad.
Timm Rolek has known MacSems around four years. Rolek was the conductor of the Sacramento opera.
“A lot of people are frightened of new music,” Rolek said. “MacSems writes in a style that is interesting and very familiar. I compare him to Aaron Copland, an American classical composer.”
Rolek said MacSems music is easy to grasp and within the first few seconds, people are listening to it. He said MacSems’ music is very organic and American.
MacSems was born in New York in 1930 and received his master of arts degree in music composition from California State University at San Francisco in 1967.
MacSems has led a diverse life. He said he was a prop maker off and on from 1948 to the early 1960s.
“In one particular job, I had to blow air on Eva Gabor and Glenn Ford to make it look like they were driving a car,” MacSems said. “I remember her telling me, ‘That will be enough darling.’”
MacSems said he remembers working at the Hollywood Bowl as the sound advisor for a concert given by Leonard Bernstein and André Previn.
MacSems became a teacher in 1959 in Nevada City, teaching music to elementary students, switching in 1962 to teaching band and chorus at the high school level. In 1970 and 1971, he took a sabbatical from teaching and studied with Gottfried von Einem at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria. MacSems said Einem was the number one composer in Vienna at the time.
Joe Cannon, also a composer, has known MacSems for around 20 years. They both used Midi instruments and developed a musical based friendship.
Cannon said MacSems writes music in the neoromantic category, which is a style and approach between romanticism and early 20th-century modernism.
“We discuss the best way of bringing out what the composition is trying to say with the instrument,” Cannon said. “We look for the correct balance and volume, we work on bringing out the essence of the piece.”
MacSems has composed music for orchestras, chamber music, opera, band, as well as choral and voice.
He has been a guest conductor for many different venues, including the San Mateo County Chorus in Half Moon Bay, California and the Glen Rock Pops Community Orchestra in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
MacSems said he has a great affection for dogs and has owned three dogs over his lifetime. His last two were rescued greyhounds. He named his dogs after opera characters.
“Siegfried was my Great Dane, Sophie, after the female lead in ‘Der Rosen Cavalier’ and Minnie after the only female in ‘Girl of the Golden West,’” MacSems said.
Consequently, he has written a short book about dogs and opera.
MacSems said he will never stop composing music.
“If I stopped composing, I would probably be in my wife’s face,” MacSems said. “Everybody should have a hobby to fall back on when they retire.”
MacSems said the most enjoyable part of all of this is being able to perform and please an audience. He said he is looking forward to this event.
During his exclusive interview with this publication, Michael presented a chronological summary of his personal musical journey, which began in Durban, South Africa.
Michael said that he was born in South Africa, because his parents, Gary and Lilo Neumann, had fled there during World War II.
“I was the son of basically refugees from the Holocaust,” Michael said. “They came from (Berlin) Germany and went to South Africa. That’s why I was born there (in South Africa in 1948).”
During his years growing up in South Africa, Michael gained a love for classical music through concerts that he would attend with his parents.
Inspired by this genre of music, Michael began studying violin, and was taught at a young age by Maria Neuss, the great-great granddaughter of the famous Czech
composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904).
It was not until the early 1960s that Michael immigrated to America with his family, which also included his brother, Frank.
Michael’s family eventually resided in San Francisco, where Michael was enrolled in the prestigious Lowell High School.
Continuing his schooling through a music scholarship, Michael studied at San Francisco State College (present day San Francisco State University).
During his first semester at San Francisco State, Michael applied for and received a full-ride music scholarship from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for violin performance.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in violin performance at the Cincinnati university, Michael earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at the same institution.
Shortly after receiving his master’s degree, Michael obtained employment with the Birmingham Symphony in Alabama. For about five years during the 1970s, he played in this symphony’s first violin section and conducted the Birmingham Youth Symphony.
Michael’s longtime connection with Sacramento followed his time with the Birmingham symphonies, as he was hired in 1978 as the assistant conductor and as a violinist in the orchestra for the now-defunct Sacramento Symphony.
A year later, Michael began the first of his 32 years as the conductor of the Sacramento Youth Symphony.
Additionally, Michael continued his work with the Sacramento Symphony, which promoted him as its associate conductor, a position he obtained in 1989 and continued until the symphony disbanded in 1997.
Fortunately for Michael and the Sacramento Youth Symphony, the youth symphony filed for independence prior to when the Sacramento Symphony was discontinued. The youth symphony became its own non-profit organization, which is still in existence today and is led by Michael as its artistic director.
Michael, who is the conductor of the youth symphony’s premier orchestra, said that he made a very conscious decision to dedicate himself to and develop the youth symphony, which debuted as the Northern California Junior Philharmonic Orchestra in 1956.
With the support of the youth symphony’s board, Michael has contributed greatly to the youth symphony’s success.
Since the time that Michael became involved with the Sacramento Youth Symphony, the symphony has grown from 55 youth and one orchestra to 400 youth, three 90-piece orchestras, a summer chamber music workshop, flute and clarinet ensembles and a beginning string orchestra, called the Vivace Strings.
And next year, the youth symphony will add a beginners’ orchestra, called the Prelude Strings.
Michael, who has a wife named Allison and two sons, Gary, who is a guitarist, and Joshua, who plays cello in the nationally touring, major label band, Brandi Carlile (visit www.brandicarlile.com), explained that the Sacramento Youth Symphony, which has performed in several countries outside of the United States, offers a very important educational opportunity for many youth in the Sacramento region.
“There are many, many young people in Sacramento and the surrounding vicinity who want to play music, and especially now with the school systems, as many schools don’t even have an orchestra, because of the budget cuts, etcetera, etcetera,” Michael said. “Well, we provide a very high quality musical education for our young people.”
In addition to his work with the Sacramento Youth Symphony, whose performances have included tribute concerts such as its popular Veterans Day concerts at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, Michael is also the music director and conductor of the Folsom Symphony and is occasionally a guest conductor around the country.
As a well accomplished and highly recognized conductor, Michael has received many awards, including the “Arts Educator of the Year” award from the Arts and Business Council of Sacramento – an award which he received last year.
Michael said that one of his favorite items of recognition that he has received is a hand-carved, wooden gate that leads to his former one-car garage, which was converted into his home studio in about 1999.
“There was a gentleman whose daughter took violin (lessons) from me and whose daughter was in the (Sacramento) Youth Symphony and he was so grateful for what I was doing that he said, ‘Michael, I do woodwork and I want to make you a gate, because I want to show you how much I appreciate what you do.’” Michael said. “He said, ‘I’ll put anything you want on (the gate) and all you have to do is pay for the lumber.’”
Pointing to the hand-carved portion of his gate, Michael, whose favorite composer is Beethoven, said with an upbeat tone to his voice, “This is the opening of Beethoven’s 9th. This is the violin part.”
In reviewing his career in music, Michael said that he is grateful to have spent so many years working in a field that he loves.
“There’s a certain satisfaction level that I feel (working in music),” Michael said. “When I see people in their work, in their jobs, who hate their work and look at (the clock) and say, ‘In another 10 minutes, I’m out of here,’ well, I’m never on a podium going, ‘In 10 minutes, I’m out of here.’ So, I’m grateful to be doing what I’ve set my mind and my heart to be doing. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in that.”
For those interested in attending a performance by Maestro Neumann and the Folsom Symphony, the symphony will perform a special concert, called “Land That I Love,” at Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, in Folsom on Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, call (916) 357-6718 or visit www.folsomsymphony.com.
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) composed his “Symphony No. 5, Opus 47 in D Minor” with fear and trepidation – literally. As a Soviet Russian composer, his work was under constant scrutiny by the Soviet government to conform to “communist ideals.” As an artist, this was a difficult task – he was, in fact, denounced twice during his career. In Stalinist Russia, a denounced artist could vanish during the night. Many of Shostakovich’s friends did vanish, never to be seen again.
The Symphony No. 5 was composed as a “comeback” work after a period of denouncement, to show his loyalty to the party. Shostakovich also wanted to be true to himself as an artist. Remarkably, he succeeded, winning both popular and Communist Party approval for the work. It was first performed on Nov. 21, 1937 in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.
Remember those friends who had vanished? Everyone in Russia knew someone who had been denounced, executed, exiled or “vanished” from society. It was a horrific time. What the public so related to in Shostakovich’s symphony was this: leitmotifs (musical themes) of the Russian Orthodox liturgy and requiem for the dead. Audiences recognized these tones, and actually wept during the first performances. It was an opportunity for public, physical release of their grief and fear – in short, a relief, if even for three-quarters of an hour. The standing ovation lasted well over half an hour at the inaugural performance.
Such is the power of music to release passionate feeling.
The second performance of the evening is “Scheherazade, Opus 35” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908), composed in 1888. Based on “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights),” this is the composer’s most popular work.
“The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim (in series), for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely,” Rimsky-Korsakov wrote in his introduction to the score.
This work is lyrical and filled with leitmotifs for each character. The Sultan is literally a “heavy” in the opening notes of the work. The four stories of the Sultana Scheherazade are easily visualized in this lyric work: “The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship,” “The Kalendar Prince,” “The Young Prince and the Young Princess,” and “Festival at Baghdad/The Sea/The Ship Breaks Against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman.”
This music is extremely sensual, as Scheherazade wins the heart of her husband and their leitmotifs soar into consummate ecstasy.
Racy stuff for those modest Victorians – powerful Russian passion, indeed.
The “Russian Power/Russian Passion” concert will be performed one evening only, on Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. Order tickets soon, as the Folsom Symphony is swiftly becoming one of the more popular organizations in the region. Stage One at the Folsom Lake College Performing Arts Complex is located at 10 College Parkway (just off East Bidwell Street) in Folsom.
Single tickets are $22 to $42. To purchase, call (916) 357-6718 or visit www.folsomsymphony.com.
The $50 million center, funded primarily by a combination of a State Educational Facilities General Obligation Bond, Local Measure A Bond, and private donations to the Folsom Lake College Foundation, includes three theaters, an art gallery, educational facilities, faculty offices, and much more.
David Pier, the center’s executive director, said the facility’s design, in the curvilinear lines of its lobby, reflects the diverse feel of Folsom Lake College’s modern campus.
“The lobby is a conflux of many different design elements coming together,” Pier wrote in an email. “A large curved wall with a beautiful wood finish echoes the arcs and radiuses (sic.) that are common design elements throughout the campus. As in other buildings on campus, a slate wall with stone tiles from quarries in northern India cuts through the lobby. Bricks that make up the campus side of the facility come into the lobby around one of the theaters, bringing the outside in.”
The facility was designed by LPAS, a Sacramento-based architectural firm, in conjunction with Shalleck Collaborative, a theater consultant out of San Francisco that provided guidance on the performance spaces. Another local firm, Kitchell CEM, acted as construction manager, overseeing the work of 17 primary contractors and more than 50 specialized companies.
As its name ‘Three Stages’ indicates, the arts center includes three very different performance spaces. Stage One is an 850-seat theater with a 46-foot long proscenium, a full stage house, and an orchestra pit. It will accommodate performers from across the artistic spectrum, from Broadway touring shows to symphonies to modern dance performances. Its design is modeled on one of the world’s most famous and venerable theaters.
“This theater-in-the-round setting is reminiscent of the Globe Theatre in England,” said David Webb, marketing consultant for Three Sages, referring to the theater of Shakespeare’s London, built in 1599. The similarity, he said, is intentional, given Folsom Lake College’s participation in a program that allows instructors to visit England and the Globe Theatre.
Stage One’s interior features include the use of comfortable blue cloth seats and warm wooden accents, giving the auditorium an inviting feeling absent in more sterile-feeling performing arts centers.
“A Venetian plaster was used on the interior walls, together with large wood finished surfaces and curtains which can be drawn to adjust the acoustics of the theater,” Pier noted. “The carpeting and upholstery on the seats help to give the space a warm sensibility. The balcony and its box seats wrap around the theater, similar to the Globe Theatre, emphasizing the intimacy of the venue.”
Stage One also boasts excellent acoustics and sightlines for audience members.
“This hall can do all of the things the Mondavi Center (at UC Davis) can do, and it seats half the number of people,” marveled Webb, who was the Mondavi Center’s first marketing director.
Stage One’s first season highlights include the national tour of “A Chorus Line,” the Joffrey Ballet, the Harlem Gospel Choir, singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, husband-and-wife jazz musicians John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, The Pink Floyd Experience, and Roseanne Cash, daughter of the late Johnny Cash, known for his “Live at Folsom Prison” album. And yes, Pink Floyd fans, Webb promises the show will feature a 12-foot long pig blimp.
Stage Two, which Webb calls his favorite space within the performing arts center, is known for its versatility and practicality. It includes multiple doors and stage rigging setups to regulate the size of the space, adjustable overhead lighting, and a fully functional costume shop.
The arts center’s most intimate venue, Stage Three is a 100-seat recital hall that will be a great place to see and hear acoustic music and vocals. It features a gorgeous hardwood floor that any basketball team would be proud to call their home court, plus a state-of-the-art 48-track digital recording studio Webb said is rumored to be the biggest in the region.
Three Stages’ doors will open to the public next Feb. 4 with a ribbon cutting and open house. The following day’s community showcase will feature more than a dozen local performers. The facility’s official grand opening weekend will run Feb. 11 through Feb. 14 and will showcase performances of “A Chorus Line” on Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 and “Sugar and Spice,” a special Valentine’s Day pops concert by the Folsom Symphony.
Pier and Folsom Lake College President Dr. Thelma Scott-Skillman are both understandably excited about the arts center’s pending opening. Pier believes the facility will bolster the region’s overall quality of life.
The center also is expected to be a regional economic driver.
“Once up and operating, the center will employ more than 50 people on an ongoing basis, which will have a direct ripple effect on the local economy,” noted Pier. “Another boon for local businesses relates to the more than the center’s long-term operating budget of $3 million per year could result in an economic impact on the region of upwards of $7 million annually.”
A regional ‘change agent’
Dr. Scott-Skillman expects the facility to improve as it grows into its own skin.
“Three Stages will build upon its offerings during the next few years to ensure the diversity of performances and entertainment,” she said. “At full capacity we are planning to offer approximately 400 performances, events, and activities a year, including four or five art exhibits and many exciting programs for young children.”
A musician herself, Scott-Skillman appreciates the comforting effect music and the arts can provide, and she looks forward to other artists seeing and appreciating everything Three Stages has to offer.
“As an educator, immersed into an exciting and productive position as a college president, I am also able to lean upon my passion for music as therapy for my soul; my piano truly is a comfort zone for me,” she said. “I am so very proud of this facility. It has truly been a labor of love, taking nearly nine years of planning, researching, and collaborating with many, many people at the college, in the Los Rios district, and across the entire United States to gather as much information to present a gift of the arts to our region.”
Having led tours of the facility, Scott-Skillman knows the impact it can have on visitors.
For more information on Three Stages and complete information about upcoming performances, show times and ticket prices, visit www.threestages.net.