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Santa Rosa Symphony gala honors president, CEO

Friday night was a big, big night for Santa Rosa Symphony President and CEO Alan Silow at the Green Music Center.

Silow was feted for his 70th birthday and his 20th year as the leading advocate and COVID-era savior of the symphony, regarded as one of the most vital and successful regional orchestras in the country.

After taking a year off because of the pandemic, the Santa Rosa Symphony pulled out all the stops for its 2021 gala, welcoming guests with a champagne reception at the Prelude Restaurant and a sit-down dinner in the Person lobby.

In between the bubbly and the grand meal, pianist Kathleen Tagg and clarinetist David Krakauer performed an intimate recital in Weill Hall. Krakauer is appearing with the symphony this weekend.

In less than 30 minutes, he and Tagg took the audience on a tour through Debussy, some original works and classic jazz tunes, ending with klezmer, the Jewish traditional music of Eastern Europe.

“Klezmer is basically dance music and celebration music,” said Krakauer, who uses a special mouthpiece to help him channel its no-holds-barred spirit.

The sold-out Celebration 2021! gala was emceed by Santa Rosa Symphony Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong.

“To Alan, thank you so much for making this orchestra’s dreams come true,” Lecce-Chong said, paying tribute to Silow for daring to dream big for the past 20 years.

Since he was hired in 2002, Silow has kept a steady hand on the symphony’s rudder while raising millions to help build the hall that serves as the orchestra’s home. He also kept the orchestra afloat through recessions and the pandemic, never letting up on the throttle when it came to supporting education and artistry.

The 150-some guests raised their glasses to toast Silow, then raised their paddles during a fund-in-need auction in support of the symphony’s community music education programs. To help inspire bidders, Petaluma High Senior Natalia Napoli performed on her violin.

With energetic state Sen. Mike McGuire as the auctioneer, the donations reached a record-breaking $300,000. To coax bidders toward the end, McGuire egged Silow on to perform a few dance moves.

“Whatever it takes,” Silow replied, raising his arms like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.

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