04 June 2017

In Appreciation: Jason Oestenstad

Today the Oakland Civic Orchestra celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founded by Enric Zappa in part so he could practice conducting, 20 years ago the job of Conductor/Artistic Director was taken over by Marty Stoddard who auditioned and won the position. Since then we have grown musically and in numbers. With more than 65 amateur musicians today there are still six of the original members who sat through those auditions and hired Marty; we (yep, I am one of them!) made an incredible choice and it has been really exciting to share the journey of  that growth. I am really pleased to call Marty a friend and exceptionally grateful to have been able to play under her direction. Through the years we have played a repertoire I think few community orchestras can match; we never played arrangements or abridgements of classical pieces. Though carefully chosen with our capacities in mind, we played music we never thought we could handle and more often than not we surpassed ourselves in the process.

One of the ways Marty has helped us grow is by bringing in associate conductors both to learn their craft  and to work with us in ways which stretch our perceptions and broaden our musical experience. In the video above Jason Oestenstad, the sixth associate conductor in these last two decades, conducts Dvorak's, In the Realm of Nature. Jason, who moved here to work with Marty and this orchestra, has just completed his fourth and final year with us and at the same time is completing his Master's in Conducting from San Francisco State.  As part of the requirements for his degree Jason will lead us again in this piece next Saturday (we played it last set). For the rest of the recital he will also conduct the remainder of the program we performed today** for this season's final set: Delius,  The Walk to the Paradise Garden,  Sibelius,  Valse Triste, OP 44 No. 1,  and Beethoven,  Symphony #5.

Congratulations and thanks to Jason for his work with Marty and the orchestra these past several years. I am personally grateful for the few times Jason (a really fine violinist) was able to be my stand partner. I learned a lot at those times and wish him well in whatever professional paths he takes.

** Today's videos will be available shortly. I'll probably put something up when that happens.