"My sculpture professor told me that there are 2 main ways an artist can express himself successfully. One is to have their work timely, within the context of the era in which they live. The other is to have a vision that leads the way into the future. Daniel Stewart has done at least one of those successfully. I closed my eyes during Daniel's premiere of his new piece "Social Media" and the music was so timely, a rush of events that have happened in the last year came rushing into my minds "ear" and eye. To have evoked this personal response is a marvel of his genius, now we will see if the world will see his efforts worthy of the second category - a vision of what classical music can be, bravely foretelling a new way to incorporate our daily life and reflect it in the symphony hall. Bravo!"
-David John Morse, Violin Maker
"Maestro Daniel Stewart unveiled a tour de force of virtuosity and artistry supported by the ever more distinguished Santa Cruz Symphony. Sunday’s concert at the Mello Center opened with Mozart’s delightful Overture to The Marriage of Figaro (1786), with the orchestra bringing joy and spontaneity to each phrase. This work was the first of two works by Mozart, both impeccably performed and thoroughly enjoyed by all!
The World Premiere of Maestro Stewart’s Social Media (2017) was a musical kaleidoscope that journeyed through a calculated, complex world of emotions and expression. The compositional form was splendidly flexible and combined state of the art Midi electronic sound with an ever present orchestral blend of strings, percussion, winds and brass. From a fast and furious opening to restrained, impressionistic moments touched by personal comments, one could conjure a variety of conclusions. Midi electronic rhythmic groupings opened the work and in timely fashion modulated into moments of well orchestrated musical structures. Social Media is a full-toned musical experience with big dynamics. Razor-sharp rhythmic drive emphasizes the concept that contemporary scores are coded documents that must be deep analyzed in order to decode their messages. The calm mid section, predominately orchestral employing strings and clarinet arpeggios allowed for a moment of restfulness, reflection and demonstrated the Maestro’s compositional creativity. Once again the rhythmic pulse entered and heightened the texture leading into a recapitulation. Judging by the audience reaction, Social Media earned a successful World Premiere.
Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola K 364 (1779) featured the distinguished In Sun Jang on violin and Maestro Danny Stewart on viola. Elegantly attired in a black concert dress, In Sun performed glorious arches of phrasing that coupled with the viola counterpart creating lush string textures. Unlike a pianist conducting from the piano facing the orchestra, Maestro Stewart had the challenge of facing the audience and giving orchestra directions, bow in hand whenever possible. Nonetheless, the result was impeccable. The second slow Andante stirred a haunting quality against the steady pulse of the cellos and basses.
Their playing represented the ne plus ultra of the classical style. In Sun’s vivid detail and clear understanding not only put every note in place, but invested it with profound feeling. The balance between soloists and orchestra was flawless.
The cascades of notes glided with elegance and phrasings were exquisitely tapered with no hint of effort. This was a wonderful concert experienced by all and a grand standing ovation was certainly in order!"
-Joseph Sekon, Peninsula Reviews
"The Santa Cruz Symphony’s recent production, Celebration!, was a gift to the romantic imagination, reminding us with music of the rapture associated with being alive.
As always, SCS fostered a memorably vibrant exchange between the orchestra and soloists; performers and audience, reviving work by iconic composers and introducing us to innovative music and musicians.
The program opened with a buoyant rendition of Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro that was brisk and flirtatious. Maestro Daniel Stewart led a fresh, lively performance that highlighted the orchestra’s talent for accenting details and telling a story through colorful melodies.
Along with the many virtues of his conducting, Stewart shines as a musician and composer. SCS presented the world premiere of Social Media, which Stewart composed in 2017 in honor of the 60th Anniversary Season. He views music as the “original social media” – a medium that connects audiences to the significant issues and ideas of any given time. Speed, unpredictability, and futuristic keyboard notes gave Stewart’s composition a relevant feel and contemporary texture. The orchestra conveyed the fast pace and overwhelming influence of technology and social media in modern life, vividly representing the era in which we live through striking sounds.
The orchestra gave an exhilarating performance of Harrison’s Suite, narrating the lighthearted mood of the original ballet story and capturing the dazzling, dramatic aspects of Parisian culture and everyday life.
Stewart and Jang’s elegance, compatibility, and decorative styles as individual musicians was reflected in their bright partnership on stage. Stewart provided a spirited accompaniment on viola to Jang’s graceful violin tone and nuances. The two soloists complimented each other with exquisite harmony, enhanced by rich, sumptuous flavors from the surrounding orchestra. As a collective, the soloists and orchestra reacted and blended creatively to transmit Mozart’s luminous, multi-layered sounds.
A revelation to experience a performance that keeps us enraptured and leaves a lingering impression long after the celebration has ended."
-Fleur Williams, Local Santa Cruz.com