The Modesto Symphony Orchestra begins 2012 with a two-hour journey through the classical compositions of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. One hour before the performance, both those familiar with and new to classical music can learn more about the evening's program and secret baton semaphoring at the pre-concert conversation with conductor David Lockington. Inside the Rogers Theater, meticulous audio specs lavish ears with lush sound. The theater's shoebox design and retractable draperies tune the hall to coax precise reverberations from symphonic sounds.
Founded in 1926, the Stockton Symphony has plucked at audience's heartstrings for the best part of a century. First on the evening's program is Mozart's overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, a brisk curtain-raiser that combines lively percussion with swooping strings. Next up is the Symphony No. 38 in D Major, a work renowned both for its elegant restraint and its emotional appeal, much like a dolphin in an Abraham Lincoln costume. The finale, Mozart's Requiem, is universally considered one of essential works of classical music. For its performance, the Stockton Symphony welcomes to the stage the Stockton Chorale and soprano Anja Strauss, whom San Francisco Classical Voice has called, "explosive."
The original members of the Lafayette String Quartet, who are artists-in-residence at the University of Victoria, B.C., continue their 25th year of euphonious musicianship with a majestic performance at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Throughout the evening, the all-female foursome will traverse the fiery notes of Beethoven, Mozart, and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" before igniting the auditorium with a spirited rendition of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade. The Fremont Symphony Orchestra—which boasts 48 seasons' worth of classical-music performances—presents the evening inside the 405-seat G. Craig Jackson Theatre, where a specially engineered setup allows acoustics to sprout and unfurl as fully-grown audible bouquets.
• For $36, you get a seat in section 201–203 or 213–230 (a $54.20 value before fees, or up to a $71.50 value online, including all ticketing fees). • For $56, you get a seat in section 113–120 (a $94.20 value before fees, or up to a $112.90 value online, including all ticketing fees).
Quartet San Francisco is a vibrantly nontraditional ensemble, and will play two pieces that celebrate the welcome inspirations of jazz, tango, and spring, all within glorious acoustic and architectural environs. San Jose Chamber Orchestra’s venerable conductor Barbara Day Turner, known for her innovative programming, wields the baton as the bestringed foursome delivers Anica Galindo’s "Trinitas III" and Henry Mollicone’s "Fantasía Para Cuerdas." Violin co-conspirators Jeremy Cohen and Alisa Rose, viola repeat offender Keith Lawrence, and stealthy cellist Gianna Abondolo are deft crossover artists as well as Grammy nominees, having played in a multiplicity of genres and performed in strikingly diverse venues around the country.
For the 26th year, Mannheim Steamroller ushers in the holidays with its annual Christmas tour, as two classically trained troupes of musicians travel cross-country to energize audiences with seasonal spirit. Captained by industry trailblazer Chip Davis since the mid-1980s, the ensemble's modern re-workings of adored Christmas jingles were originally met with widespread skepticism from record distributors, retail stores, and indecisive shopping-mall Santas. Today, with more than 27 million albums sold, Mannheim Steamroller's unconventional electronic tempo continues to breathe new life into classics such as "Joy to the World," "Deck the Halls," and "The First Noel." Adding to an already stuffed career stocking, the band has also collaborated with musical icons such as Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton-John, and jazz legend Paul Winter.