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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 7:46 am | Fair 44º


Harmonic Convergence, Wimmer Style

World-class musicians play in tribute to master violin maker James Wimmer and his project to create a quartet of instruments for Westmont College.

A different kind of harmonic conversion illuminated Trinity Episcopal Church last Sunday, as a clutch of world-class musicians played in tribute to violin maker James Wimmer.

Dubbed “Wimmerata,” the event was in celebration of the master instrument maker and his current project creating a quartet of instruments for Westmont College.

Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship at Westmont, served as conductor and master of ceremonies. He was substituting for Adrian Spence, Santa Barbara’s Camerata conductor, who was originally booked. Spence was somewhere in the air, in a plane that couldn’t make it to Santa Barbara in time, Shasberger said.

The first half of the Wimmerata was a session of country fiddling in the afternoon. Puckish violinist Gilles Apap was the guiding force.

He switched to classical mode for the evening program, which featured a chamber orchestra in front of the altar and soloists performing the rich classical pieces.

Apap and Phillip Ficsor played violins in the first movement, allegro, of J.S. Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins. Then Apap and Seth Noorzad, playing viola, joined in the Handel-Halvorson Passacaglia for the two instruments.

Marcello’s Salmo Decimoquinto for Voice and Cello was next, performed exquisitely by mezzo soprano Adrien Ranier, Nona Pyron on obligato cello and Zandra Hanson on continuo cello.

The final work before intermission was the first, allegro movement of Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor for Two Cellos, played by Rebecca Shasberger and Jeannot Maha’a. It was rich indeed for those of us who can never hear enough Vivaldi.

Next was the largo-allegro from J.S. Bach’s Concerto in G Minor for Violin, performed by Natalia Gutierrez-Jones. She is 13 and already quite capable of holding her own in this group of fine professionals.

The second movement, allegro molto, from Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, was performed by Ficsor and Sarah Shasberger on violins, Megan Wong on viola and Rebecca Shasberger on cello. It’s always amusing to be reminded that Shostakovich consistently enraged Russian wartime leader Josef Stalin with his modern, “decadent” music.

A couple of whimsical entries ended the announced program, Mark Summer’s Julie-O for solo cello, played by Rebecca Shasberger and two traditional Roumanian fiddle tunes played by Gilles Apap.

The delightful closing number turned out to be all the string players, including the chamber orchestra members, standing and playing a joyous, old-fashioned American fiddle breakdown. Wimmer stood in the forefront of the group, sawing away on his violin and grinning infectiously. The audience stood and roared their approval.

Michael Shasberger announced that there will be a dedicatory concert of Wimmer’s new quartet instruments when they are ready, “hopefully in the spring.”

Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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