Friday marked the end of the Redlands Bowl 99th season, and like all of the productions and performance artists to date, it was done in style and with grace.
Master of ceremonies Larry Burgess began the evening acknowledging the sponsors of the evening, Jim and Valerie Peterson, and sponsors of the dance floor, Mary Bawden of Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited. Mayor Paul Barich and his wife Joann sponsored the fireworks portion of the evening, which unfortunately didn’t happen, allowing the donation to roll over to the golf fundraiser planned by the RBMA.
Volunteers, Red Shirt Ushers, security, Photographer Bruce Herwig II and his team, as well as the sound and light crew were also acknowledged and thanked for all their hard work.
After all the business had been taken care of, Conductor Ransom Wilson started the music.
In the vein of Frank Fetta, previous conductor, he chatted with the audience as he introduced the music and composers the Redlands Symphony would be sharing.
The Redlands Symphony began with “From the Blackbelt” suite, composed by Willian Grant Still, an artist Wilson found so compelling, he promised himself he would play Still’s work every time he played. The seven piece arrangement was at times quick and light and then brooding and melancholy.
Next up, he introduced powerful violinist Aubree Oliverson, who mastered the complex violin concerto by Samuel Barber, at once a furious, difficult and brilliant piece. The crowd rewarded her phenomenal performance with the first standing ovation of the evening.
Following intermission, the symphony had one more Barber composition, before launching into a tribute to composer John Williams. One of his underrated compositions was the Olympic Fanfare for the Olympics held in LA.
The audience appreciated the rest of the program, as the pieces by John Williams, including an Empire Strikes Back Medley and a tribute to John Williams are comfortable, familiar songs. Sound and light crew matched the tone and theme of the songs, adding a quiet light show to the mix.
Linda Carrier has been to most of the performances this season, and as an accomplished pianist and piano teacher, she found Friday’s performance “magnificent. I loved listening to all of it.” Her friend Yancy Busby agreed, finding the evening mesmerising.
The final show of the 99th season was a microcosm of the entire season: familiar and unknown, furious and lighthearted, local and foreign artists. RMBA is already working hard on next year’s season, the 100th, to continue Grace Stewart Mullen’s vision.