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Livermore-Amador Symphony presents 'Colorful Characters'

Concert to also feature winners of youth competition, including Amador junior

Livermore-Amador Symphony continues its 56th regular season with "Colorful Characters" next Saturday (Feb. 23) at the Bankhead Theater, with music director Lara Webber conducting.

The concert will present Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell" Overture, Benjamin Britten's "Soirée Musicales," and Aaron Copland's "Billy the Kid" Suite.

In addition, winners of the Symphony's 2018-19 Competition for Young Musicians will be featured: pianist Daniel Mah of Pleasanton, and cellist Alexander Canicosa-Miles of Alameda. They will perform music of Franz Liszt and Joseph Haydn, respectively.

Mah, 17, a junior at Amador Valley High School, will perform Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major.

"Sitting down at the piano opens up a whole new world for me," Mah said, "allowing me to briefly escape realities, a process which enriches my life and provides relief from daily stresses. I also love how each person can draw out their own unique sound from the piano, communicating their own ideas without the barrier of language."

Mah was born in Perth, Australia, and moved to Pleasanton with his parents Mimi and Eric Mah in 2017. He started piano lessons at age 5 and has won numerous competitions, such as the West Australian Pianists' Competition and Fremantle Eisteddfod and has received titles such as "Best in Performance of an Australian Work" and "Highest Overall Score in the Competition."

He has led music fundraising events and was a regular performer at hospitals, nursing homes and St. George's Cathedral in Perth. In addition to music, Mah loves to travel and enjoys outdoor activities, including swimming, sailing, table tennis and hiking.

The other featured young musician will be 15-year-old Canicosa-Miles, performing the first movement of Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major.

"In times of chaos, music takes me to a place of solace and freedom of expression," Canicosa-Miles said. "It has taught me to always choose kindness, practice patience, love abundantly, and appreciate the beauty that comes with every consonance and dissonance in life."

The concert's "William Tell" Overture is the opening to Rossini's opera of the same name.

"This iconic, action-packed overture has four distinct scenes containing some of the most familiar tunes of all time," Webber said. "Following a beautiful opening cello solo, the winds pick up and a storm is suddenly upon us. The clouds part, and the woodwinds sing out their famous bucolic melodies, which in turn are abruptly interrupted by the trumpets, who carry us away in a famous heroic gallop to the exciting finish. Hi ho silver!"

Britten based his "Soirée Musicales" on Rossini themes.

"Britten, inspired by the music of Rossini, gives us five miniature masterpieces each with its own unique character," Webber said. "The opening march is a nod to the famous finale from Rossini's 'William Tell' Overture. Each movement that follows is based on a Rossini melody -- by turns elegant, sentimental, whimsical and fun."

"Billy the Kid" is the first of Copland's three ballets.

"Through the use of real cowboy songs from the era, an arsenal of percussion for the big gun battle, pianola music that has us all sidling up to the dusty bar at the saloon -- we are transported into the world of this legendary outlaw," Webber said.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 23, preceded by a prelude talk from 7-7:30 p.m. At intermission, the teen jazz band, Element 116, will perform, directed by Matt Finders, and the Symphony Guild will host a post-concert reception in the lobby.

Tickets are $26-$36. Visit www.bankheadtheater.org; go to the Bankhead ticket office, 2400 First St., Livermore; or call 373-6800.

Editor's note: Patricia Boyle, immediate past president of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley branch, has been writing about the Livermore-Amador Symphony for seven years.

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