It was bright and sunny outside, but the chapel of Santa Barbara’s historic Presidio was bathed in candlelight for Sunday’s concerts by the West Coast Chamber Orchestra.
This refined ensemble is mostly led by Christopher Story VI, but Dr. Michael Shasberger of Westmont College took a turn with the Concerto for Three Violins in D. Featuring instrumentalists Tamsen Beseke, Jaqueline Suzuki and Julie Beavers, the work was transcribed here for violins instead of the original pianos. According to the program notes, this Concerto was being played for the first time in the United States.
The concert was performed twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening, allowing the audience to schedule Mother’s Day festivities around the music. (Since Papa Bach fathered a total of 20 children with two successive wives, it’s a given that he would approve of Mother’s Day.)
Story took the podium for the first piece — a suite from the Air on the G String — and the final three works. This Air is so familiar, and so loved, that it was fitting to launch the program with it.
The other works conducted by Story were the Fugue in G Minor, the Arioso played on the viola by Eugene Mechtovich, and the familiar Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, highlighting flute soloists Sheridan Stokes and Jamie Pedrine, along with Beseke on violin.
Story and Shasberger present an interesting juxtaposition of conducting assignments. Story has been conducting locally since 1966, and appears with groups as varied as the West Coast Symphony and the Goleta Valley Chamber Orchestra. Shasberger occupies the Adams Chair of Music and Worship at Westmont College. He also conducts the college choir, gives private lessons and is a liaison with a number of area music groups in planning concerts such as these two at the Presidio Chapel.
Once again, the Santa Barbara music community flexed its considerable muscle with a concert of rarified music by fine musicians. And the program was enhanced by being presented in a historic setting, the Presidio Chapel with its Spanish Colonial art and decoration.
Sunday’s concerts were sponsored by the Cielo Foundation, which is also presenting a free concert in the Courthouse Sunken Gardens in August and a “Mozart by Candlelight” Thanksgiving concert. The Cielo Foundation has been presenting this kind of performance since 1966.