On May 10 in Laxson Auditorium in Chico, I had the pleasure to hear a great orchestra built by the communities of Redding and Chico and supported by California State University, Chico. This evening was the final concert for Kyle Wiley Pickett, who is widely credited with building the North State Symphony into one of the finest regional professional orchestras in its league.
Guest soloist David Requiro was outstanding on the Dvorak Cello Concerto. He is a remarkably talented artist, that perception quite evident from the get-go. His instrument had a rich, bright timbre and a strong vitality, and he controlled its expressive voice as if it were his own. His touch was sublime. It won’t be long until we hear him on the stages of Los Angeles — watch for his name.
As a conductor, Pickett’s motions were smooth and calibrated; his expressive gestures masterfully managed the qualitative and quantitative energies of the night. But Pickett had a truly personal bond with this orchestra, a characteristic that transcended technique and interpretation. There were years of communication and memories, of joys and tears on stage and off imbedded in the context. The music had an intimacy that was genuine and deep, it had an uncanny humanity, the affect and camaraderie were palpable.
Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes were the orchestral highpoint of the program. Britten’s music is just so approachable, especially these themes. What a pleasure to hear this music, and especially to hear such a version, affective and superbly technical. Concertmaster Terrie Baune led the strings wistfully. The piece was performed on Pickett’s first program years ago, so just imagine the autobiographic affect, the understanding, the immediacy this performance evoked as the music poured out like a living fluid.
The auditorium was passable as a concert hall, although the brilliance of the strings was somewhat damped and the lower brass and double basses radiated disproportionately. However, the woodwinds remained crisp, and the horns sailed through nicely.
Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture was a rousing exclamation point to an extraordinary tenure with the North State Symphony. The ensemble was full-bore ahead. Pickett was exuberant. Bravo!
Best wishes to Pickett in the future as music director of the orchestras in Springfield, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas. Bravo for stellar achievement with the North State Symphony!
For more information about the North State Symphony, visit http://northstatesymphony.org/.