And the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra
Suze Diaz — Escondido, CA …Many causes for celebration were present on a beautiful evening at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Voted The Best of San Diego for Live Music Venue and Limited Engagement, the Center continues to be loyally committed to their goodwill mission to present opportunities to furthering arts entertainment and arts education in the community by sustaining and expanding programs that provide cultural enrichment for residents all over San Diego County. Last weekend brought an exceptional meet-up combination between two dynamic musical forces: the highly impressive San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra and the incredibly phenomenal Tina Guo.
Photos by Suze Diaz
The San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra is a private, non-profit orchestra ensemble for young musicians throughout Southern California. Founded in 1956, a variety of programs are offered to aspiring musicians ages 5 to 22 providing opportunities to help enrich their passion for music and support their dreams through the benefits of quality professional training from the Civic Youth Orchestra staff and educators. The SDCYO adopts the Stepping Stone Concept in which each student works with the music staff providing challenging and satisfying experiences in their progress to advance from one level to the next to find their placement in the advance performance ensembles. Many symphony ensembles tours have traveled to local and international festivals. In 2006, the pit symphony began performing Nutcracker annually at California Center of the Arts, Escondido. In 2014, SDCYO became an endorsed program of the Center through a generous donation from the Jean and Bob Will Foundation. In 2017, the SDCYO celebrated their 60th anniversary and is currently planning to partner with the Escondido Union School District to bring musical opportunities to elementary school students. This new program, named the Allegro Program, is generously sponsored by Jean M. Will and will begin in the Fall of 2018.
Tina Guo is an internationally well-known, Grammy-nominated cellist and composer. As a classical soloist, Ms. Guo has performed with major orchestras around the world and has shared the stage with musicians such as Joe Bonamassa, Al Di Meola, Alicia Keyes, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel and Steven Tyler, to name a few. As a composer, Tina has been featured on many movie soundtracks (Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, Inception, Batman vs Superman, etc.), TV scores (CSI:NY, Vikings, The Borgias, etc.), video game scores (Call of Duty: Black Ops II and III, Assassin’s Creed, etc.), as well as compose music scores for multiple corporate clients such as Microsoft and Apple. The Tina Guo Sample Library by Cinesamples is one of the most popular cello solo libraries available on the market today, used by composers and producers in countless media music projects. Her debut album with Sony Music, “Game On!”, was released earlier this year and her music can be heard on many sports themed shows such as “WWE Smackdown”, “NHL Rivals”, and “Inside the PA Tour”. She is also a passionate supporter to many charities and has won numerous awards in the music industry.
What makes Tina Guo a dynamic sensation is her passionate vision in blending and creating an out-of-this world melodic new sound of classical music mixed brilliantly with heavy metal flavors. The results are extremely mind-blowing and breathtaking. What made this evening’s performance a particularly spectacular one is that Ms. Guo is an alumnus of the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra.
After a warm welcoming speech by Stephen Inscoe, President of the Executive Board for SDCYO and Jerry Van Leeuwen, Executive Director for California Center for the Arts, Escondido, the evening opened to a happily emotional introduction by Musical Director and Conductor Robert Gilson. Mr. Gilson spoke with pride and with heart as he explained the significance of the evening regarding the melding performance of a well-beloved exceptional former student with the current group of extraordinary students.
The orchestra made their way to the stage and warmed up, blending splendidly as they waited for Mr. Gilson’s appearance as conductor. Beautifully arranged and soothing to the senses, the opening numbers started off soft and light as it progressed to the thundering sound of Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Ms. Guo then made her appearance to perform Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor Op.33 by Saint-Saëns with the SDCYO, which she performed many years ago as a SDCYO student. Playing with strong emotions as the strings uttered each note; the rich bass sound evoked a mystical magic to the heart mesmerized by the intensity of the music.
After intermission, the program switched to a personal concert by Ms. Guo along with her three piece band of outstanding musicians: John Huldt, guitar; Kfir Melamed, bass; Fran Kelpacki, drums (and a special note, Igor Stolarsky, sound engineer). Each member of her band had a solo moment during the show to give us a glimpse of the talented force behind this fireball of musical brilliance. Ms. Guo is a complete delight, very charming, polite, sweet but once the bow hits the strings, a fierce musical warrior unfolds in magnificent splendor. Performing epic songs featured on her debut album: “Final Fantasy VII”, “World of Warcraft”, “Super Mario Bros.”, “Pokemon”, the evening moved at an intoxicating pace of power music and magic.
Charmingly revealing that she is an avid fan of “Game of Thrones”, Ms. Guo added a special treat with an extended version of “The Rains of Castamere” as well as her interpretation of the show’s main theme. An adorably sweet dedication to her best friend also named Tina, the main theme from “Kung Fu Panda” was accompanied by a cute story of how they met. Ms Guo also introduced her parents and jokingly made fun references to her cello lessons. The powerful Viking-esque sounding “Witcher 3” was played unbelievably on erhu, a two-stringed bowed Chinese fiddle and a spectacular performance nod to Hans Zimmer with “Wonder Woman” rounded the exhilarating set.
The electrified evening ended with the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra joining Ms. Guo on stage again to perform the stunning “Legend of Zelda” and for an astonishing encore, “Flight of the Bumblebee”. As a wonderful thank you to the audience, Ms. Guo and her band were kindly available for a one-on-one meet and greet. Patrons were thrilled and the long line was an indication many were eager to give their heartfelt expressions of appreciation for the evening’s spectacular show.
For more information on the electric performances and amazing music of Tina Guo, please visit her website at http://tinaguo.com
For more details on auditions, performances and scholarship information for the San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra please go to https://www.civicyouthorchestra.org