A Mix of Medleys

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Musical variety comes to Salinas in a big way this week, with two concerts in town showcasing music with very different styles.

As we gear up to the holiday season, you might wish to get into the Christmas spirit a little early with a concert and CD launch at Madonna del Sasso church on Monday evening.  The CD in question is a recording of “The Song of Luke,” an oratorio based on the birth and infancy of Christ as described in the Gospel of Luke.   The oratorio was composed by Cyprian Consiglio, a Camaldolese monk (a branch of the Benedictine tradition) based in Santa Cruz.  He says of the work, “What I have always loved about the Gospel of Luke is that everyone seems to burst into song.  There is a tradition that Luke may have been an artist… but most assuredly he was a poet and a singer.  That was my first inspiration to write The Song of Luke.”

The piece, which combines a choir, soloists, orchestra, dancers and narrator, premiered in 2002 in the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Colorado.  The show was a huge success, and performances in Oklahoma, California and Italy soon followed.  Consiglio and musical partner John Pennington, an internationally renowned percussionist, decided to record the piece, and so in July and August of this year, performances in Santa Fe, NM and Phoenix, AZ were recorded, with the result being the CD.

“The Song of Luke” is a beautiful piece containing echoes of several musical traditions from around the world.  Impressive and moving as it is on CD, one can only imagine the power of a live performance.

By way of complete contrast, Wednesday evening sees a performance by the SRO Big Band at Chapala Mexican restaurant.  If you’re unfamiliar with the big band sound, think Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman and you’ll be in the ballpark.  Swing music has experienced a recent revival in popularity, and the 16-piece SRO band has been performing regularly around the Peninsula, Santa Cruz and San Jose for the past 5 years. 

The band was originally formed as a kids’ band by trumpeters Corren Hileman and Mario Iglesias, who both had sons in Junior High school.  Then eventually, says Iglesias, “the kids grew up and we decided to keep playing!”

The members of the band include three full-time professional musicians, four music teachers and a variety of other backgrounds.  “The thing we all have in common,” says Iglesias, “is that we all love to play this music and we want everyone who comes to see us to have a great time.”  The band boasts over 450 tunes including swing, Latin, ballads and show tunes, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.  Dancing is, of course, encouraged.  Wednesday’s show is planned to be the first of a regular series of Big Band nights, which will be at Chapala on the first Wednesday of every month.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, December 2, 2004

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