Tribute to the Trees... and the rain

Skye Kinkade
Though overcast during the Tribute to the Trees dinner on June 19, 2010, rain didn’t begin falling until after the concert began. Most of the audience stayed until the end to enjoy the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra’s encore performance of “Orange Blossom Special.”

Overcast skies turned to rain showers Saturday evening, but it didn’t prevent many concert-goers from enjoying the sounds of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra during Dunsmuir’s 20th annual Tribute to the Trees fundraising concert.

About a quarter of the guests who were unprepared for significant rainfall left before the concert’s end. Those who stuck it out stayed for the encore – and got even wetter.

The evening’s concert was one of the only ones in 20 years that was not interrupted by the noise of a passing train, depriving music director and conductor Benjamin Simon of  the moment when he likes to don a train conductor’s cap and quip, “I always wanted to be a conductor.”

The Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens set the scene for the concert, dinner and silent auction, which was dedicated to Lucy Depoli, one of the Garden’s founders.

“For many years Lucy’s mission in life was to beautify the City Park,” said the inside of the evening’s program. “It was because of her vision, energy and dedication that we are able to enjoy this beautiful garden setting.”

The second piece PACO performed was the beautifully eerie “Lights, Fog, Winds, Grasses,” which was composed by 19 year old Berkeley native Gabriella Smith.

Smith was the winner of the fifth annual Youth-for-Youth award, and Simon explained that Saturday’s performance was the piece’s world premiere.

The audience was also enraptured by William Grant Still’s “Danzas de Panama,” Ney Rosauro’s “Concert for Marimba and String Orchestra” and Astor Piazolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas.

The encore was a special version of the well known fiddle/bluegrass song “Orange Blossom Special,” which imitates the sound of trains in honor of the town of Dunsmuir.

PACO is an award wining training orchestra for San Francisco Bay Area string players of high-school age and younger.

This year, PACO will be a part of the Elizabethan festival in Ashland, Ore. Afterward, they will finish their short summer tour overseas in Turkey, to participate in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Istanbul.

Volunteers set up for the Tribute to the Trees annual fundraiser on Saturday, June 19, 2010.