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Love is in the air with Folsom Symphony

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Laura Newell, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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With romance the focus of many this month, some may turn to the soft sounds of the Folsom Symphony for an intimate evening. The Folsom Symphony started eight years ago by board President Bruce Woodbury and others interested in creating a community symphony in Folsom. Michael Neumann, music director and conductor, said the community symphony was a positive collaboration of musicians and board members. Today there are about 65 musicians. “These musicians are in the symphony because of the love of playing, they are not a paid union orchestra,” Neumann said. He said the community has embraced the symphony. “We have been very fortunate of having a loyal following from the community who enjoy our concerts,” Neumann said. “From day one, we have really had a large following of community support. Their loyalty has been a solid audience base for us.” Neumann has had a long career in music before finding Folsom. “I was born in South Africa and lived there until I was 14 years old,” he said. “I started playing the violin at 7 years old.” After his family immigrated to San Francisco in 1963, he continued studying music, eventually receiving his masters in orchestral conducting. His career includes working with the former Sacramento Symphony as the assistant conductor. In 1979 he took over the Sacramento Youth Symphony and this year marks his 33rd year as their conductor. “From the bottom of my heart, I’m very grateful to have a career that I still love and respect,” Neumann said. “Between the two orchestras, this is now a full-time career which I’m grateful for.” He was contacted by the Folsom Symphony to be the music director and conductor eight years ago when it was formed, and he jumped at the opportunity. “It brings a great deal of satisfaction,” he said. “I get imported to another world while up on the podium. This is a leadership position with the goal of inspiring musicians to play to the best of their ability and bring forth a wonderful product.” He said his favorite part of leading the symphony is inspiring and showcasing classical music to people. He said he loves to provide a new appreciation of classical music to people who may have never heard it before coming to one of his concerts. “Michael has done a wonderful job in attracting high caliber musicians who play for their love of music,” Anson Wong, board director and corporate secretary. “Michael is able to bring out the best from the musicians. In addition, his connection to the audience make the performances that much more enjoyable.” The concert looks to be a romantic setting for all ages and music lovers. Neumann will lead the orchestra through 11 of classical music’s most moving compositions, ranging from the symphonic rendition of Romeo and Juliet’s ill-fated love to the modern “Love Story” theme of commitment and joy and a light-hearted journey along a Bohemian river, Wong said. “This concert reflects a nice blend of romantic music that everyone will enjoy,” Wong said. “Our audiences and musicians enjoy the wide range of music that the symphony performs.” Three soloists perform for this concert including guest pianist Natsuki Fukasawa and symphony members. Symphony members include violinist and concertmaster Anita Felix and oboist Curtis Kidwell. The symphony also will dedicate a selection to the memory of cellist Alexander Ashton, who died Dec. 15 at the age of 27, Wong said. “Being on the board and a violinist in the symphony, I have seen first hand the great community support from our patrons over the years,” Wong said. “This support is appreciated by everyone involved - the board, the volunteers and the musicians.” “Music of the Heart” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the main Three Stages theater on the Folsom Lake College campus, 10 College Parkway, Folsom. Ticket prices range from $20 to $42. For information about the Folsom Symphony, call (916) 357-6718. For tickets, call (916) 608-6888 or visit folsomsymphony.com. * * * KNOW AND GO What: The Folsom Symphony orchestra performs “Music of the Heart” When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $20-$42 Information:?Call the box office at (916) 608-6888, or visit folsomsymphony.com.