"Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings opened the concert with quiet contemplation...a subdued mood that was reinforced by clean attacks and excellent intonation throughout. The long melodic lines were balanced for utmost clarity.
The Santa Cruz Symphony strings showed their maturity and skill in the final work, Serenade for Strings in C by Tchaikovsky…The orchestra achieved a fullness of sound that was gratifying to hear. The Waltz movement was elegantly played. The high point of the performance was the third movement, Elegy, delivered with heartfelt phrasing and warm sound. A high level of performance marked this concert throughout."
In the fall of 2012, Stewart was appointed conductor of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and working closely with these outstanding artists at the beginning of their careers has enabled him to bring them to Santa Cruz. Earlier this year Chinese baritone 25-year-old Yunpeng Wang gave a thrilling rendition of Mahler's "Songs of a Wayfaring Lad." This time Stewart brought soprano Ying Fang who delighted the audience in Bach's "Wedding Cantata" and the "Bachiana Brasileira No. 5" by Villa-Lobos. Fang was able to seamlessly transition from Baroque to 20th century music in the twinkling of an eye. What supreme artistry!
The orchestral soloists responded well to the assertive conducting of maestro Stewart who thanked each member of the orchestra individually on stage at the end of the concert in a gesture indicative of his close relationship to this orchestra which continues to grow and flourish."
"The Santa Cruz Symphony under the baton of its Director Daniel Stewart programmed three of the most interestingly diverse works one can recall. Concert number two “Dreams and Visions” featured soprano Ying Fang, yet another bright shinning star from the Metropolitan Opera Company.
Fang’s wonderful mastery and impressive range blended with the cellos to create a passionate musical aura that hovered over the audience like incense filled smoke. All of this was flawlessly balanced and blended by Stewart.
"But credit goes as much to Daniel Stewart whose vision of the piece was not short of revelatory. One standout of Stewart’s conducting style is the sharp contrast of articulation between rhythmically charged passages and adjacent lyrical ones. Not only does he have a clear idea in mind but he communicates it equally well. Everything in this performance made sense… the finale, that sui generis miracle of counterpoint, was nothing short of breathtaking"
"Maestro Stewart balanced and blended the orchestral ensemble well with the piano assuring that the piano was both prominent as soloist as well as part of the overall texture. It became apparent there was exact precision in the integration between the images, the motivic processes and harmonic textural orchestration. Moments of chaotic, opaque textures became glued together and then liquidated into bright more tranquil moments under Stewart’s direction. This performance received a deserved standing ovation by the supportive audience!"
He showed himself to not only be at ease in this situation but, in conducting without a score, illustrated his deep and secure knowledge of the works: A most successful conclusion to an enterprising and enjoyable season of varied music."
"After firmly establishing his reputation, Maestro Daniel Stewart announced an exciting second season with the Santa Cruz County Symphony. The Maestro’s unique programming and inspirational conducting style has endeared him to both musicians and concertgoers, who have been attending in numbers never before seen in the organization’s 56-year history. He’s shaking things up and making classical music accessible to all types of people."
"The orchestra players paid keen attention to every nuance Stewart cued in realizing the colorful orchestration Stravinsky employed in his Pulcinella Suite. The work proceeded with delicate dynamic balance, flawless phrasing and virtuosity by the wind, brass and string players throughout the entire piece."
On Saturday, October 5 at the Civic Center, the Santa Cruz County Symphony under the direction of the long awaited, newly appointed Music Director Daniel Stewart, opened its 2013-14 Season. The bottom line is Stewart far exceeded all expectations with a monumental opening concert!
This concert marked the sixth work I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing under the baton of Maestro Stewart. All six were performed without a score, which obviously tells you about his preparation. I would like to add the orchestra never sounded better.
“The idiomatic explosion over the last 100 years of different types of music and different ways we can share it and listen to it is amazing,” says Stewart. “It’s like we’re in the midst of the most unprecedented musical renaissance of all time and still coming to grips with the mass spectrum of what’s out there. Something that’s so exciting to me is what a major misnomer ‘classical music’ is because it’s not any one style at all. It’s a collection of styles from 400-plus years of different idioms and traditions that classical musical distills down to their essence and weaves into a new language. That language is always evolving and incorporating every other type of music.”
The moment the classical music community of Santa Cruz County has been waiting for has finally arrived! After an exciting season of 10 audition concerts featuring five talented conductors, thousands of painstakingly tallied surveys from the audience and orchestra members, a clear and resounding winner has emerged – a conductor whose thrilling performance has created enormous buzz and earned the support of the overwhelming majority of concert-goers and musicians as well as the Symphony’s board and administration. The Santa Cruz County Symphony Association is now pleased to announce that Daniel Stewart has been selected as the new Maestro of the Santa Cruz County Symphony.