Symphony d’Oro Celebrates Community, Heroes, and a New Name

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Trina L. Drotar; Photos courtesy Symphony D’Oro
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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Rancho Cordova Civic Light Orchestra has a new name and a new event as it opens its sixth season. The newly renamed Symphony d’Oro Rancho Cordova will celebrate heroes big and small through its free concert, “Heroes: Celebrating All Who Make a Positive Difference in the World,” on Saturday, October 13at River City Christian.

Maestro Pete Nowlen will conduct the volunteer symphony orchestra and solo violinist, Chase Spruill, through four centuries of classics by Ludwig van Beethoven, Antonín Leopold Dvořák, Gordon Jacob, Felix Mendelssohn, and Antonio Vivaldi. 

The composers were specially selected for this concert because they “had other aspects to their lives that make them the kind of people we want to celebrate,” said Lorraine Crozier, president of Symphony d’Oro.

Beethoven composed many of his greatest works in his late 40s and early 50s when he was going deaf, and the first four notes of his “Symphony No. 5” is the most widely recognized line after “Happy Birthday,” she said. Between 1803 and 1812, Beethoven composed 116 complete pieces including an opera. Dvořák “was brought to America to develop the concept of American classical music,” said Crozier. Jacob served in WWI, was held captive, and formed a small camp orchestra using instruments fashioned out of whatever could be found. He set himself apart with his fondness for Baroque music at a time when it was not fashionable and for his ability to compose for wind bands.

Mendelssohn, said Crozier, supported his sister’s musical talent, often seeking her critique on his works. The child prodigy composed operas and symphonies including “Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” his most recognizable composition, at age seventeen. Vivaldi composed more than 200 concerti for solo violin, wrote operas, composed sacral vocals, and he contributed to the classic three movement concerto.

The fifty musicians who perform in the full orchestra are doctors, lawyers, architects, nurses, retired, and college students. Some are recent members. Others, like Crozier, have performed since the group’s inception in 2012 during a Sacramento State chamber music summer workshop. 

The symphony first performed as the Rancho Cordova Civic Light Orchestra in May 2013 and celebrated Rancho Cordova’s ten year anniversary of cityhood with its second full concert. Maestro Nowlen has been with the orchestra since he led that summer workshop and is active in orchestral and chamber music circles throughout the Sacramento region and San Francisco Bay Area.

Musicians and volunteers travel from Auburn, Davis, and from the San Francisco Bay Area, said Crozier, adding that about half of the musicians, including one cellist in her 80s, have been members since the beginning. They perform as a full orchestra in four free concerts annually and one fundraiser. Many also perform in smaller ensembles for activities at Mills Station Art and Culture Center (MACC) and Rancho Cordova special events. 

“Playing in a musical ensemble is a special thing,” said Crozier. “It’s a great feeling. That is why we do it.”

They also help support Cordova Community Food Locker (CCFL), founded by a group of volunteers in 1987, which provides food for about 5,000 people monthly. Crozier said that CCFL also provides turkey dinners at Thanksgiving. During intermission, donations may be given and music lovers can meet the musicians.

And the reason for the name change, she said, goes to the heart of the orchestra and society. 

“In ancient languages gold and treasure were often the same word,” wrote Crozier in an email. “Music, and the rich musical heritage that has evolved over many centuries, is something for all humans to enjoy, preserve, and value. In sharing music we share the greatest of artistic treasures and help to preserve it for future generations.” In Spanish and Italian, the word for gold or treasure is Oro.

“The arts are really the heart and soul of the community,” she said, and refers to the compromise required when fifty talented musicians come together to perform a “team sport where everybody wins.” 

As for who heroes are, she said that “a hero gives up a seat on the bus to a person who needs it.” 

For additional information on Symphony D’Oro, visit www.rcclo.org/Concerts. For additional information on Cordova Community Food Locker, visit https://sjvparish.com/serve/cordova-community-food-locker.     If you go: Saturday, October 13 at 4:00 p.m. River City Christian Church, 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova.