Topanga Symphony, Embracing Harmony, Creating Joy

In looking for joy in our life, we seek to embrace the moments that bring us to the place where we find peace. For many, listening to classical music is the input that creates this output. For the past 36 years, the three free Topanga Symphony concerts held each year in the intimate setting of the Topanga Community House have been the momentary respite where the audience has found relief from the often stressful reality we endure in daily life.

Guitar soloist Jordan Charnofsky. Photo by Tom Mitchell
Guitar soloist Jordan Charnofsky. Photo by Tom Mitchell

June 24, 2018, was just such a concert day, where the live performance of talented classical musicians played their hearts out making each black dot on the pages of music come to life like pearls of wisdom. The musicians of the orchestra, and the amazingly talented guitar soloist, Jordan Charnofsky, have a passion for this music. Their hope is that, by hearing and experiencing the music, the audience can find the same joy that the music makers discovered when they first embraced classical music and made it their art form of choice.

The concert began with Three Dances from Henry VIII by Edward German. The music was lighthearted and carefree evoking an era of grace and elegance that was captured exquisitely by concertmaster Rebecca Rutkowski’s solo excerpts within the work. The premiere performance of Andante and Scherzo for Brass Qunitet by the incredibly talented composer, Topanga Symphony Music Director and Conductor Jerome Kessler, was soothing, relaxed, and calm. It sent a reassuring feeling to the listener that brass instruments—skillfully blended together, from the clear highs of the trumpets, the distinctive resonance of the French horn, to the rich lows of the trombone and tuba—can create the harmony we seek. The musicians who masterfully interpreted the delicately beautiful composition were Steven Ravaglioli and John McQuilkin, Trumpet; Julie Callahan Gross, French Horn; Mark Geiger, Trombone; and Peter Reale, Tuba.

In his third solo performance with the Topanga Symphony, classical guitar maestro Jordan Charnovsky comfortably began Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concert #1 in D major, Op. 99 with a light and playful melody by the violins and cellos.

The sweet, smooth sounds that make this piece such a joy to hear continued through the soloist and were passed to members of the orchestra as they shared the melody. It was easily interpreted as musically representing nature going about the business of life from the sounds of the muted strings to the busy fingering of the talented guitarist capturing the essence of scurrying animals or birds taking flight and soaring with precision and freedom.

Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G, Op.88 followed the intermission. The cello section opened the piece with a powerful, rich, dramatic voice, capturing the beauty of classical music to wake up your soul as it joyfully sways along with the rosined bows that grip the strings and reach into the heart. The musicians show that all their hard work to present the music is worth it as it comes together to encompass both the musicians and audience.


The hard-working musicians create the music, but it takes a village to produce the event, whose music is only able to be heard with the support of the community like the orchestra manager, Ernie Demontreux; sound engineer Neil Shaw; and refreshment donations from Harry Moses; the generous support of the advertisers and Friends of the Topanga Symphony. To become a Friend, visit, and volunteer for the next concert on November 11, where you will meet Symphony members and virtuoso violinist Aubree Oliverson, who will again join the orchestra as soloist.

Topanga Symphony Fifth Annual Fundraiser 

You are invited to attend the Fifth Annual Fundraiser for the Topanga Symphony on Sunday, September 30, from 2– 5 p.m. at a private residence on Zuniga Road in Topanga. This unique event will be an inspiring afternoon to enjoy chamber music by some of our amazing symphony musicians in an intimate setting. There will be gourmet hors d’oeuvres and beverages, served before the concert and during intermission, as well as a silent auction.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $65 each and can be purchased by check, credit card, or online at Make checks payable to Topanga Symphony and send to: Jeanne Mitchell P.O.  Box 361, Topanga, CA 90290.

We are also soliciting volunteers to help with the event and to donate Silent Auction submissions. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Jeanne Mitchell at

Thank you for supporting the Topanga Symphony!






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