Topanga Symphony, March 10, 3 p.m.

Topanga Symphony Director, Jerome Kessler with baritone soloist Ronald Hedlund after a performance on November 27, 2013. Photo by Tom Mitchell

Enjoy an afternoon of powerful, whimsical, and romantic music performed by powerful, whimsical, romantic, and talented musicians in this first free concert of the year.

Without missing a beat since 1982, the Topanga Symphony has presented three free concerts a year at the Topanga Community House, until the scheduled November 11, 2018 concert.

The orchestra was rehearsed, a favorite soloist, violinist Aubree Oliverson was ready to perform, but the terrible fires of that week closed Topanga and the surrounding Santa Monica Mountain communities to everything and anything that was scheduled.

As we continue to mourn the immense loss endured by the wildfire, it is with certainty that a classical concert presents an opportunity to escape into beautiful music and enrich our soul with hope and promise for the future.

On March 10, at 3 p.m., the Topanga Community House will once again host the Topanga Symphony’s free concert, featuring works by German composer, musician, and author Paul Hindemith, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and an original composition by the Symphony’s Music Director and Conductor, Jerome Kessler.

Five Pieces for String Orchestra by Paul Hindemith begins the concert. Hindemith emerged early in life as an accomplished violinist becoming the concertmaster of the Frankfurt Opera at age 23. With the coming of WWII he immigrated to the United States in 1940 where he played a prominent role in music history as a leading composer, conductor, and teacher at Yale and Harvard Universities, as well as a music theorist. His unique avant-garde approach to harmony and dissonance is signature in his works as referenced in his quote, “Music, as long as it exists, will always take its departure from the major triad and return to it. The musician cannot escape it any more than the painter his primary colors or the architect his three dimensions.

Appearing for a second solo performance with the orchestra (his previous performance was on November 17, 2013), baritone Ronald Hedlund will first narrate a whimsical piece written by Jerome Kessler titled, How the Aardvark Lost His Voice. The fable portrays a shy, odd-looking animal with a fabulous voice. A tale for all ages, it’s an interpretation with humorous and artfully derived sounds and spoken words of an African plains adventure.  

The orchestra will then accompany Hedlund singing Mozart’s aria, Per questa bella mano, K. 612 (“By This Fair Hand”). Mozart composed this romantic declaration of love eight months before his death in 1791.

Hedlund has earned accolades performing leading roles in every major American Opera House, at European and American Festivals, in orchestral and musical theatre appearances, and master classes. He is a 2006 Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois and has remained an active performer.  Critics in the LA TimesWashington PostNY TimesSan Francisco Chronicle wrote about Ronald Hedlund.  “A giant not only in stature, but in voice and character. One of the finest baritone voices…Mr. Hedlund acted brilliantly. He has a voice of good size, too. Anybody with this kind of stage projection, and this ability to shape a smooth musical phrase, can be an asset to any opera house.”

Intermission is an opportunity for the audience to enjoy refreshments on the Community House grounds and sweeping views of the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains, in anticipation of the finale, Mozart’s dramatic Symphony No. 41 in C, “Jupiter.”  Written in 1789, it is often referred to as “the greatest orchestral work of the world which preceded the French Revolution.” Called “The Jupiter Symphony,” the name is derived from the first movement’s opening fanfare motif that evokes Jupiter, the “sky father,” god of thunder, and the chief deity of the ancient Roman state religion.

The Topanga Community Center is located at 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290.



The Topanga Symphony is a non-profit organization that has presented free concerts  for 36 years thanks to the support of the community through donations, program advertisements, and grants. Classical music in Topanga presented by the dedicated and amazingly talented musicians, is a gift to the entire Santa Monica Mountains community.

Bring a friend, family member, and neighbors to this free concert and experience classical music in an intimate and beautiful setting.


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