Eight great virtuosos to perform

The Mother Lode Friends of Music, the classical music performance society serving the central region of the Sierra Nevada foothills, presents a concert of chamber music on Sunday, April 7 at the Church of the Nazarene, 14050 Ridge Road, in Sutter Creek, starting at 2 p.m.

The concert is free and open to the public.

The program features the “Octet for Strings” and “Winds” by Franz Schubert, one of the great masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire. Scored for two violins, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn and bassoon, the work is rarely performed, due to the great difficulty of all the parts, where each player must have the stature of a virtuoso soloist.

For this occasion, the Friends of Music will be bringing together eight of its finest players, led by concert violinist Corina Stoian.

Stoian has performed frequently as a soloist in Friends of Music concerts and is the concertmaster of the organization’s symphony orchestra. She has also appeared with the Bear Valley Summer Music Festival, the Auburn Symphony, the Diablo Symphony and many other ensembles in California as well as in her native Romania and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Joining her will be violinist Bruce Chan of Sonora. Chan has performed with the Fresno State Orchestra, the New England Chamber Orchestra, the Pacific Union College orchestra, where he was concertmaster, and most recently the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, before moving to Sonora in 2010.

Violist Randall Fisher passed the major part of his career in Colorado, playing in the state’s principal orchestras and teaching at the university level and privately. He was director of community outreach of the Stockton Symphony before a recent move to the Bay Area.

Cellist Alice Williams has been for many years a prominent player in the Bear Valley Music Festival Orchestra, and continues performing in the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, while making her home in Forest Meadows in Murphys.

Bassist Henry Gonzalez of Ione has been principal of the bass section in the Friends of Music Orchestra since its inception in 1993, and performs regularly in orchestras throughout the Central Valley.

Both clarinetist Hank King and bassoonist Jill Dowlat are regular members of the Friends of Music Orchestra and frequent chamber music performers with the organization and elsewhere. Both also perform with the Folsom Symphony Orchestra, where Dowlat serves as principal bassoonist.

Hornist Bill Minkel of Camp Connell is principal horn of the Friends of Music Orchestra and performs regularly with wind ensembles in the region. Before moving to the foothills, he performed in several orchestras in the South Bay.

Completing the program on April 7 will be light-hearted music for two flutes and piano by three prominent contemporary composers with well-established international reputations.

The “Dialogues for Two Flutes and Piano” is by Denes Agay, a Hungarian-born composer and music editor who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s.

“Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla is one of the Argentinian composer’s most famous melodies, performed here on standard flute and alto flute, with piano accompaniment.

The program concludes with the tuneful and charming “Three Dances” by American composer Gary Schocker.

Performing the works are flutists June Diggle and Sandra Betti, with Patti Hennessee on piano.

Diggle studied with Roger Stevens, principal flute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Luella Howard, principal flute with Twentieth Century Fox Studios. She performed for many years with the Mesa Symphony Orchestra and in numerous ensembles in San Diego before moving to Sonora. Now based in Sonora, she has performed with the Bear Valley Music Festival and many regional organizations.

Betti studied with Paul Renze, former principal flute with the San Francisco Symphony, and Leone Buyse, assistant principal flute with the Boston Symphony. She has performed with the Berkeley Symphony and the Artesian Pops Orchestra in Los Angeles, and toured Europe with classical guitarist Sergio Funes. She moved to Sonora three years ago and has become an active participant in local groups.

Pianist Hennessee majored in piano performance at San Jose State University and continued her musical studies at Sonoma State and Cal State East Bay. A versatile musician, she plays music ranging from classical to avant-garde, sacred and rock and roll. As a resident of Marin County, she taught music history in local colleges and served as accompanist for the Novato Music Association and the San Anselmo Organ Festival Singers. She now makes her home in Murphys, where she is musical coordinator and pianist for the First Congregational Church.

For further information about the concert and other upcoming events, consult the Website of the Mother Lode Friends of Music at or call 209-293-4227.

Mother Lode Friends Of Music

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