Simple pleasures with the Downey Symphony Orchestra


Celeste Lira

At the Downey Theater, the Downey Symphony Orchestra, directed by Sharon Lavery, performs “Simple Pleasures” on Jan. 26. Sharon Lavery is also a professor at USC and resident conductor at the Thornton School of Music.

Vivian Buenrostro, Co-Editor-in-Cheif

On the evening of Saturday Jan. 26, The Downey Symphony Orchestra performed Simple Pleasures under the direction of music director Sharon Lavery. The line to get into the theater before the performance was full of excitement and anticipation of all ages. Various string instruments from higher pitched violins to the handful of mighty cello and bass players took up the stage.


The night began with a piece by the famous classical composer, Mozart, called Divertimento, K. 136. Jumpy rhythmic ran from the violins supported by the suspenseful bass lines from the bass and cellos intertwined with the counter melody from the four viola players; this piece was an excellent collaboration of music that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.


Before the show continued, Lavery introduced the orchestra’s featured trumpet act, Conrad Jones, 22 from Cleveland, New York. Jones used his consistent, clear tone quality to accent the piece: Concerto in E- Flat for Trumpet and Orchestra by Johann Neruda.


“This is a piece that I am comfortable playing with the orchestra,” Jones said during the intermission break, “it’s this bizarre feeling of calm, but you still feel this adrenalin.”


The first half of the performance left the crowd speechless and wanting more by the time intermission came.


“I came with my mom tonight as her date and my favorite part is when the trumpet player plays,” Audience member Connor, age 8 said, “it makes me want to play.”


Simple Symphony, Op. 4 written by Benjamin Britten was the longest piece of the night that featured improvisations by Jones and English horn player, Catherine Del Russo.  With four complete movements, the classical tune had its variety of mood setters. The first movement gave the theater a mysterious vibe as the lower voices of the orchestra took the upper hand. For the second movement, string players on stage placed their long bows and used their fingers and gave the song a Spaniard guitar feel. The third movement was dramatic and the climax built, only to flow into the final movement where the tension was released at last.


The astonishment audience members had could have been noticed by the simple look of awe on their faces. It’s evident that a passion for classical music is what the performers and the crowd had in common that evening.


“I actually hated classical music when I was 16,” Jones later added, “it was jazz that I fell in love with, but as I became more serious about my profession, there was a turning point and I realized my hidden love for it.”


Lavery set up a musical night that can be seen once more on Feb. 1 at the Embassy Suites Hotel. They will be the featured entertainment act for the silent live auction fundraising the Music in the Schools program.