San Jose Chamber Orchestra performs for Harker community


Felix Chen

Instrumental music teacher and artistic director of the Harker Concert Series Jaco Wong speaks at Friday’s performance. Jaco introduced his own piece the “Whampoa Overture,” which was then performed by the orchestra.

The musicians of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra took the stage in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Friday to perform in front of an audience consisting of students, parents and administration for the first event of this year’s Harker Concert Series. 

The performance followed a reception at 6 p.m., serving food and drinks to the audience before they entered the theater. The orchestra consists of eight violinists, four violists, three cellists and two bassists, and was conducted by founder and music director Barbara Day Turner.  

The Harker Concert series launched in 2010, and, according to the Harker Concert series website is designed to act as part of the school’s “ongoing commitment to share thoughtful, entertaining and engaging events with the greater Bay Area community.” It has featured artists ranging from Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, to the Daedalus String Quartet. 

The performers began with the first movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, a 1787 composition by Mozart, and then followed with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. Instrumental music teacher and artistic director of the Harker Concert Series Jaco Wong then introduced his own piece to be performed by the orchestra, the “Whampoa Overture.” His composition was inspired by Whampoa, an area of Hong Kong where he grew up. Wong divided his composition into three distinct sections, beginning with the innocence of youth and finishing with a return to the place of one’s childhood and a realization of the faultiness of memory and changes in perspective.

“It was very cool to hear [Mr. Wong’s piece],” attendee and orchestra member Iris Cai (10) said. “I can definitely sense the three sections, and it was very playful and very nostalgic. [My favorite part was] the ending. It was a reprise of the first [part]; it was more sweeping and more complex, a more emotionally charged reprise of the first.”

The chamber orchestra then performed “Trinitas I,” the work of Anica Galindo, a graduate student at the University of Southern California. The piece, a stately, sorrowful ten-minute composition, ranged between grand crescendos and solitary cello solos and concluded softly to great applause. The orchestra continued their performance with a more lighthearted offering of “Plink Plank Plunk” by Leeroy Anderson, followed by a 15-minute intermission. 

“The orchestra sounded great for an eclectic, very diverse choice of music,” Wong said. “My favorite part has to be Leroy Anderson’s piece, because he just knows musical humor and know how to engage the audience.”

Turner announced the next piece, John Williams’ “A Prayer for Peace” from Steven Spielberg’s 2005 movie “Munich.” She then spoke on the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and discussed remembrance of the event in the year of its 50th anniversary. Afterwards, the orchestra performed “Across the Calm Waters of Heaven – A Piece for Peace,” by Ahmed Alabaca, and the performance concluded with a lively “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla. 

“I thought it was a great show,” tech crew member Harshini Chaturvedula (11) said. “The Concert Series is a great opportunity to watch amazing, talented musicians and performers. I’m looking forward to [attending other performances]. 

As part of the Concert Series, saxophonist Donny McCaslin will perform next on Nov. 4 and Twin Cities-based vocal ensemble Cantus on Feb. 3.