We were pleased to attend the Fresno Philharmonic’s program this last weekend. Entitled ‘Bolero’, it was one in a series of concerts designated ‘Masterworks’ featuring artists and works of particular note. Nothing on this last program was short of entertaining, and the guest artist Charles Ramirez who performed Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ gave a rendition that was, appropriate to the series, masterful. A delightful surprise was finding Jose-Luis Novo on the podium. He provided some extempore commentary during the concert that was funny and insightful, and based on the response of both the orchestra and the audience, he’d be a worthy candidate to replace outgoing music director Theodore Kuchar.
With a full and appreciative house at the Saroyan Theater, it was almost like the good old days, my good old Philharmonic days, anyhow, truncated when we moved away from Fresno 20 years ago. Almost, or should I say reminiscent, because so many of those in attendance, and so many of those acknowledged in the program were to an uncomfortably large extent those same folk who were orchestra supporters from the time I served on the board in the early 1990’s. God bless them, they’ve kept one of our local treasures alive, but I must say, looking across the orchestra section of the hall, what I took in was a welter of white hair. When amidst a company out of which I find myself on the cusp of youth, one can only say that it is a shall we say mature company indeed.
This of course begs a question I’m certain the staff and directors of the Fresno Philharmonic grapple with daily, how to keep the orchestra attendees at least a continuing body, and hopefully a swelling one. With Fresno’s population burgeoning, one wouldn’t think this would be a problem. Since the time I served on the board, the local population has nearly doubled, and one would expect at least some kind of incremental increase in attendance, funding, and services for the orchestra members.
Well, something(s) to ponder with thankfully a loyal cadre of supporters and attendees of still sufficient numbers who will doubtless happily soldier on, preserving- and promoting- what is surely an ornament for the community. I’m hopeful that very many others will sooner rather than later cotton on, hoick themselves up from in front of the TV and discover what glories are to be found at a Fresno Philharmonic concert.