A World Premiere, a Classic, and a Whimsical Work

From l – r: Conductor/Composer Jerome Kessler, violin soloist Joyce Pan, and Composer Jim Stanley presented a concert of diverse musical styles. Photo courtesy Topanga Symphony

The Topanga Symphony, under the skilled baton of Jerome Kessler, played a diverse range of musical styles with perfection at the March 4 concert.

The program began with the intense, emotional and traditional classic, Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55,” and concluded with an encore performance (previously premiered by the Topanga Symphony) of “arkexit” by J.A. C. Redford, a piece that evokes the quirky exit of the animals from the ark beginning with timid anticipation from captivity to the elation of glorious wide-open spaces.

Long-time Topanga Symphony principal clarinetist, Jim Stanley wrote a captivating violin work, “Introduction and Scherzo, for Violin and Orchestra,” with violinist Joyce Pan as soloist. Stanley said that he composed the piece to be “fun and entertaining, as well as to show off the (considerable) skills of the violinist.”

Encouraged by Ms. Pan, Stanley wrote the piece “violinistically” embracing the unique qualities of a violin performance and weaving them with the colors and fabric of the other instruments of the orchestra.

Pan exquisitely performed this World Premiere that captured the modern 21st Century classical style with the gracefulness and electricity of the present. Its modern harmonies and themes brought listeners into an emotional claim on the new sound, especially with Ms. Pan’s powerful and graceful performance that brought to life a range of feelings from imminent danger to a harmonic essence of gentle, vulnerable moments of solitude created from the complexity of the composer’s imagination.

As Ms. Pan received a standing ovation to the premiere performance and a bouquet of flowers, Jim Stanley emerged from the back of the orchestra where he had played clarinet on his own piece. Taking a bow with Ms. Pan, Stanley announced that he and his family will be leaving the Los Angeles area but, insisting that he will return, he bid everyone, “until we meet again.”

No matter what your taste in classical music, the Topanga Symphony plays a variety of musical styles where everyone marvels at the experience.


This concert was funded in part with a generous grant from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation. The important volunteer work of Grants Chair Andrea Ehrgott, infuses much needed financial stability into the Topanga Symphony. The world-class performances by amazing musicians could not be possible without the dedicated volunteers and supporters who keep the music alive.

These free concerts are not free to produce. The luxury of hearing Beethoven live in Topanga comes with a responsibility to be a Friend of the Topanga Symphony, either with a donation, an ad in the program, or volunteering to bake brownies or cookies for intermission. It all helps keep this 36-year tradition going.


The Board of Directors of the Topanga Symphony wants to acknowledge our longtime program producer and advertisement coordinator, Mary Sipple. For many years, Mary has dedicated her extreme talents to producing our program and bringing the important written words to the concert audience. She will no longer be available to provide this service and so the Topanga Symphony is looking for her replacement. For those interested, please contact the Board of Directors at topangasymphony@gmail.com.

We sincerely appreciate all the time and effort Mary has given to the Symphony! She and so many other creative and talented community members make Topanga the special place we love to call home.


The next free Topanga Symphony concert will be held at the Topanga Community House on June 24, at 7:30 p.m.


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