Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra

Congratulations to all involved who made the 2013-2014 season a wonderful adventure. This was another example of the incredible talent of our local musicians. Not only did we have great programs, the BSO increased attendance for each of the concerts and added programs to meet the needs of a broader group of children. We initiated our Inspire the Desire for Music in which the BSO musicians went into the classroom to share with children their instruments and talk about the experiences as a professional musician. The kids just loved it!


Lobby2Musicians1 Audience2 Instrument1 Musician1 Musician2VK1 Audience1


In completion of yet another stellar year, the BSO has its final season concert on Saturday May 10th at 7:30pm. This is a special evening because it is Maestro John Farrer’s final season concert after 39 years here in Bakersfield. A reception is planned directly following the concert with all welcomed to stay and show appreciation to John for his years of dedication to the BSO.


The Bakersfield Symphony has made a name for its ever popular Gala held each spring at the CSUB Amphitheater. This wonderful event stands apart from all others and is hailed as one of the best events in Bakersfield. Yes, this is the BSO’s premier fundraiser however there are no silent auctions or other uncomfortable elements rather a joyous celebration with 600 of your closest community friends.

This year our theme is “That’s Amore” bringing out the finest in the Italian heritage. You are welcome to join us for this incredible night. The orchestra will perform a short 30 minute program of popular Italian music and we will have the young Strolling Strings as well as an accordion player. This is a fantastic way to connect with the symphony and have a night on the town. Don’t forget to purchase your opportunity ticket for a chance to win $10,000 in prizes. Sponsorship opportunities are available and welcomed.

Event Details:
Date: Friday May 16, 2014
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: CSUB Amphitheater
Dinner Tickets: $100 per person
Opportunity Prizes: $10,000 including $5,000 and a $5,000 necklace from Houston Jewelers
Opportunity ticket price: $100 per ticket
Master of Ceremonies: Mike Hart


The industry leader within the world of orchestras is the League of American Orchestras. Their magazine, Symphony, is a good source of news and information from around the world. The BSO wants to promote not only our wonderful orchestra, but also open the door to a broader world of orchestra music. Below is the Winter 2014 issue.

The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra has completed another successful year of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet with attendance higher than last year. There were 4,275 people who enjoyed the 36th annual BSO Nutcracker which has become a Bakersfield tradition. A special thanks to the Civic Dance Center and all their dancers for the hard work and dedication to this program. Here are a few photos that brought this program to life.

Photographer: Felix Adamo 


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

(To hear a preview of the music or review the program, click here)

The origins of the Don Juan myth are buried deep in the tombs of historical allegory, dating back at least to the Middle Ages. Later, in 17th-century Spain, an appetite for its dramatization seems to have arisen as multiple plays appeared in various locales over a period of decades. Within a century composers such as Antonio Caldara and Christoph Willibald Gluck tried their hand in fashioning musical settings.
Flushed with the success of their collaboration in The Marriage of Figaro, it took little for librettist Lorenzo da Ponte to convince Mozart they should accept an invitation to create a new opera to be premiered in Prague in 1787. That city’s more open spirit seemed preferable for introducing this type of plot than in up tight Vienna. Typically, Mozart’s economic fortunes at the time were precarious as he was a profligate spender, living mainly on loans from wealthy patrons. His letters to benefactors reflect continual pleading for extensions on debt repayment while simultaneously requesting even more support.

He undertook the task and worked rapidly, but was repeatedly distracted by requests from various individuals for small occasional pieces. His father’s sudden demise in May of that year threatened to collapse the entire project. With the loss of his most important teacher and mentor, Mozart was suddenly cast adrift. Though the two had been recently estranged, the shock threw the bereaved Mozart into despair that, on top of his own precarious health and continuing financial difficulties, only intensified his feeling of loss.

Ezio Pinza
Ezio Pinza as Don Giovanni

Most of Don Giovanni was composed in the summer of 1787 in Vienna.
Mozart traveled to Prague in October to complete it as the premier was scheduled there for the 14th in an entertainment to honor visiting royalty. Further difficulties arose when cast members badgered him to provide more and lengthier arias, so the opening was rescheduled for the 29th of the month.

Last minute changes and additions were typical of his work routine. The overture was written the day of the final dress rehearsal, though it was customary for him to formulate its themes and structure mentally in advance. There were no manuscript sketches as it was merely a matter of his applying it to paper, most of which was completed the day before the premiere. Copyists finished orchestra parts the day of the first performance, thus the players were literally sight-reading from parts on which the ink was still fresh.

Multiple dualities mark the entire work, perhaps best exemplified by the overture itself. Mozart labeled his opera a “dramma giocoso” – implying a format both tragic and comic. This is first revealed in the overture’s D-minor/D-major contrasts. The thundering opening chords in an andante D-minor (which, comically, in our time have been appropriated in pseudo-dramatic film scores and television commercials) conflict dynamically with a hushed, intrepid rhythmic idea in the strings that seems to be softly stalking something.
The violins’ opening eight bars (forte then piano)

Impetuous outbursts in unsettling harmonies follow, pursued in turn by combined flute and violins in an arcane series of scales, minor and major, rising and falling, and raising further harmonic questions.
Flute and first violin voice rising and falling scales

Soon “tragic” D-minor gives way to a sunny moderato “giocoso” D-major section that carries to the overture’s end, very much resembling the first movement in a joyous Mozart symphony.

“giocoso” D-major theme

The human personalities we encounter offer the duality of class distinction – aristocrat-peasant. The title character, indeed, any person whose name is prefaced by either “Don” or “Donna,” is an aristocrat to whom Mozart assigned music of a rather stiff, formal, virtuosic style of wide vocal range and static emotion. The rustics, on the other hand, feature music of moderate range with shorter phrases, more linear melodies, – simpler music in effect, by contrast with that of the aristocrats.

There is consensus among respected writers on opera that no composer exceeded Mozart in the ability to clothe individual characters in his operas with music that defines them as fully as does the libretto. The first figure we come upon is Don Giovanni’s bumbling servant Leporello. His furtive acts are implied by tiptoeing eighth notes separated by rests, and forte-piano contrasts of the introduction to his first moment on stage.

Leporello’s comic personality is implied in his introduction

The stiff orchestral introduction to the aristocratic Donna Elvira captures her anger and agitation in spacious melodic leaps.

Stiffly formal intro for the jilted Donna Elvira

It is in the collective ensembles that conclude many scenes and each act where this composer’s gifts are most evident, as the musical identity each individual maintains is directly attributable to the Mozart genius.

The opera’s final line:
De’ perfidi la morte alla vita è sempre ugual.
“The death of wicked men is always just like their life.”




On sale now is the first ever BSO Commemorative Nutcracker 2013. There is a limited supply. The plaque has the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and Civic Dance Center logos as well as Nutcracker 2013. You can purchase the Nutcrackers now at the BSO office or wait for the Nutcracker performances. Nutcracker performances are December 13th through the 15th. For questions call the BSO office at 661-323-7928.

by: Jerome Kleinsasser

In 1862 the great French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz wrote: “Instrumentation is, in music, the exact equivalent of color in painting.”

On November 6, Music Director John Farrer will serve as our guide through a gallery exhibit of musical paintings that embrace nearly 200 years of orchestral history, ranging from Napoleonic Europe to California in the late 20th-century. Five colorful portraits in orchestral sound will take us from California to Austria, Germany, Bohemia and Russia.

The exhibit opens with Lutoslawki’s 1993 Fanfare for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a brief but intensely striking sonic mountain of dissonances pitting various instrumental groupings against one another in a shocking musical free-for-all. Before you know it, in the greatest surprise of all, everything resolves in silence.

Our visit through the orchestral gallery continues with music of heroic character and scale in Beethoven’s overture to his opera Fidelio. Born in the age of Napoleon, the powerful opening chords announce that this is music of great substance and character. Moments of genuine beauty follow as solo horns and woodwinds carry us on a journey of swelling emotional highs that speak to the spiritual courage within us all.

Next, in Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration we encounter a rather dark portrait of a solitary soul facing his final hours, alone, in the half-sleep of near death, where thoughts of childhood, youth and maturity combine in a panorama of life’s experiences. After a great emotional struggle, in conclusion all culminates in an aura of redemption and ultimately resounding transformation.

As we turn a corner we encounter something of a quite different color palette in Antonin Dvořák’s Scherzo Capriccioso. Here we are whisked away to the brilliant colors of a Bohemian folk celebration, with lilting dances and rollicking games. Instrumental colors of winds, strings, and percussion instruments are set off in joyous bold relief.

Our gallery presentation culminates in a lovely, but heart-rending portrait of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as fashioned by the great Russian orchestral colorist, Tchaikovsky. The character of Friar Lawrence, and the warring Capulet and Montague families, as well as the fated lovers themselves, are wrapped appropriately in sonic costume of genuine clarity and sympathy.

Thus ends a memorable musical gallery exhibit of great depth and emotional meaning, presented by the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra led by Music Director John Farrer.

Don’t forget your tickets…


We are nearing the 36th year of performing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. This show has been a Bakersfield favorite requiring four shows each year. Nutcracker 2013 will be held on Friday night December 13th, two shows on December 14th, and final show on Sunday December 14th. The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Dance Center are pleased to bring another year of fantastic dancing and wonder music as we unfold the story first performed in 1892. Here are some of the details for the December concerts:

Friday December 13th 7:30pm
Saturday December 14th 1:00pm
Saturday December 14th 7:30pm
Sunday December 15th 1:00pm

Tickets will be on sale November 20th for $34 or $38 per ticket. You can purchase tickets at Rabobank box office or the BSO office.

You can now listen to a few samples of what the orchestra will perform on October 5th, 2013. Plus you can view the concert program, along with the program notes, to ready yourself for an exciting evening. View the full post for a link to the audio clips.

New concert times are at 7:30pm held at the Rabobank Theater.


Preview samples for the October 5th Performance


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