To mark the composer, multi-instrumentalist and band-leader Vinny Golia’s 70th year, over 70 musicians gathered together for the largest of Vinny Golia Large Ensembles. The event took place at the Finnish Kaleva Hall in Berkeley, California.
[Photo by Charles Smith]
The ensemble was arranged into sections based on instrument group, e.g., percussion, guitars, winds, brass, electronics. I was in the “piano” group rather than the electronics, since I had opted to read standard notation rather than graphical scores. None the less, I brought a tiny setup to this “yuge” ensemble: a Roland “Boutique” JP-08 and a Moog Mother-32.
The two-hour long performance consisted of 25 or so pieces composed by Golia, a mixture of standard notation, graphics and instructions. He conducted the ensemble quite closely, selecting pieces, encouraging sections to emerge, and singling out folks for solos. Musically, the sound has a film-score-like quality. Given the length and duration, there was the hazard of the ensemble degenerating into a loud morass of free improvisation. Golia’s conducting – which he was quite meticulous about with us during rehearsal – and the various solos punctuating the sound helped prevent that from happening.
Golia himself performed during the set, using his trademark array of reed instruments, including the multiple saxophones and the visually striking contralto clarinet.
[Photo by Charles Smith]
Not surprisingly, the woodwinds were featured prominently. But he also made extensive use of the guitars – something I was able to experience up close given my position behind them.
Overall, it was quite an experience to be part of and to hear this ensemble, which brought together so many familiar faces from the Bay Area new-music scene, and some new artists I had never met.
Here is the official list of musicians from the program. It includes some who were not there, and unfortunately misses a couple who were.
Aaron Bennet, Beth Schenck, Collette McCaslin, Dan Plonsey, David Slusser, Henry Juntz, Isaac Narell, John Vaughn, Jon Raskin, Joseph Nobel, Josh Allen, Joshua Marshall, Kersti Abrams, Phillip Greenlief, Rent Romus, Steve Adams, Tom Weeks.
Frances Rodriguez, Jaroba, Michelle Hardy, Phillip Gelb, Rachel Condry, Tom Bickley
Ben Zucker, George Moore, Heikki Koskinen, Ron Heglin
Drums & Percussion:
Aaron Levin, Donald Robinson, Jason Levis, Jordon Glenn, Mark Pino, Tim DeCillis, Vijay Anderson, William Winant
Strings and Basses:
Henry Kaiser, Kelley Kipperman, Matt Small, Neal Trembath, Steve Horowitz, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, Tara Flandreau, Shanna Sordahl
Alex Yeung, Amy Reed, Aaron-Rodni Rodriguez, Bill Wolter, John Finkbeiner, Leland Vendermeulen, Myles Boisen, Peter Whitehead, Robin Walsh, Roger Kim, Ross Hammond
Amanda Chaudhary, Andrew Jamieson, Andrew Joron, Bryan Day, Cheryl Leonard, David Samas, Derek Drudge, Gregory Scharpen, Jake Rodriguez, Philip Everett, Scott Looney, Soo-yeon Lyoh, Tania Chen, Thomas Dimuzio.