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Nov 9 - Dec 31, 2023

High Notes

The Monterey Symphony emerges from the pandemic with a new season and a unique composition project

By Paul Fried

With a new music director/conductor and the beginning of a new season just launched, there is plenty of forward-thinking energy at the Monterey Symphony these days. But for Executive Director Nicola Reilly
and her staff, a Big Idea for Monterey County Gives! should go beyond that.

“A Big Idea to us implied something brand new, outside of normal operations,” Reilly says. “We’ll always
have a music director who writes great programs. There will always be a new season every year. But to commission a brand-new composition?”

The result is a collaboration between Symphony Composer-in-Residence John Wineglass and violinist Edwin Huizinga on a concerto for violin and orchestra, which will receive its world premiere in May of 2023. The formal title of the piece is still up in the air as Wineglass awaits approval from indigenous tribal elders for permission to use his desired moniker.

Wineglass and Huizinga have been in each other’s orbits for quite some time, owing to their shared
involvement in Glen Deven Ranch, a Big Sur Land Trust property.

“John and Edwin have been cooking this up for years,” Reilly says, “and John is writing this specifically
for Edwin’s talent wheelhouse.

His baroque violin mastery will be represented, but so will the work he does with popular duo Fire and Grace, and the third movement is an homage to Edwin’s prowess as an Irish fiddler.”

The nonprofit symphony is back to live performance in a concert hall after the pandemic shutdown, and has emerged stronger on the other side, against the odds.

“The strategy was simple: to keep as many people as possible employed,” Reilly says. “We pivoted to offering one musician in concert a few times a month, since it wasn’t safe to bring groups together. The mere presence of regular live music kept donors, our audiences, our musicians and even ourselves engaged. Staying engaged in that downtime was what was critical. We just made it up as we went along.”

Now they’re back in full swing, with a symphony season that kicked off Nov. 19, and making up new ideas as they go along—with this forthcoming commissioned piece in the works. Stay tuned.