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'A Taste of Symphony'

The Rogue Valley Symphony will render a new perspective on classical music during its second annual Summer Series of concerts, "A Taste of Symphony." The concerts will be presented outdoors in the gardens at EdenVale Winery, 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford.

"I chose music with beautiful, soothing qualities for these summer concerts," says conductor Martin Majkut. "They will feature music that is relaxing and can be enjoyed with a glass of wine."

'Paganini of the Harmonica'

Majkut and the symphony will start their program on Friday, June 20, with Johannes Brahms' Serenade No. 2 in A major, followed by Heitor Villa-Lobos' serenade, "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9," and Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion."

To wrap up the concert, Majkut has invited classical harmonica player Robert Bonfiglio to perform Villa-Lobos' Harmonica Concerto with the symphony.

"I saved him for last because I want him to play encores," Majkut says. "His artistry is incomparable. I also heard he plays a mean blues harmonica."

Bonfiglio played in blues bands while growing up in Iowa, but it wasn't until he traveled to Germany in the '70s to attend a seminar by master harmonica player Cham-Ber Huang that he decided to pursue a career in music.

Called "the Paganini of the harmonica" by the Los Angeles Times, Bonfiglio has performed with large orchestras in concert halls from Germany to New York City. He has many recordings to his credit, and he's appeared on "CBS Sunday Morning," the "CBS Morning Show," "Live with Regis and Kathy Lee," "Larry King," "The Jim Bohannon Show" and Garrison Keillor's "American Radio Show."

'A Balmy Summer Night'

On Friday, July 25, Majkut and the symphony will begin with Richard Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll," a love poem the composer wrote for his wife as a birthday present. He and some other musicians serenaded her at her window.

"He never intended to make the piece public," Majkut says. "But later in his life he sold the rights, luckily for all of us."

Principal flutist Katheryn McElrath will play the solos in John Rutter's "Suite Antique." Majkut calls the piece "a modern composer's nod to the Baroque masters" and says "it is full of movements."

"Katie holds bachelor's and master's degrees in music from The Julliard School," Majkut says. "She's worked with many different orchestras, including a post as principal flutist for the Oakland East Bay Symphony before joining RVSO. She's also performed with the San Francisco Opera and taught at the University of California at Berkeley. I feel blessed to have a musician of her caliber in my orchestra."

Two compositions by Frederick Delius will follow the Rutter piece: "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring" and "Summer Night on the River." Benjamin Britten's "Simple Symphony" will cap off the program.

"It's a perfect setting for a balmy summer night," Majkut says. "Like the Delius pieces, it fits well with performing outdoors."

'A Trip to Vienna'

Majkut and the symphony will visit 18th-century Vienna with its Friday, Aug. 22 concert.

They'll open with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Concerto No. 1 with violinist Steve Moeckel, concertmaster with the Phoenix Symphony. The concerto will be followed by Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 49, "La Passione," with Majkut conducting from the harpsichord.

The concert will conclude with Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5, nicknamed "Turkish," with another violin solo by Moeckel.

EdenVale's gardens open at 6 p.m. Light dinner fare, wine and beverages will be available. The concerts begin at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35 for general seating (chairs will be provided), $5 for ages 6 through 24, and can be purchased at www.rvsymphony.org or by calling 541-552-6398.

'A Taste of Symphony'