It’s an achievement to play a challenging piece of music accurately while maintaining good tone. Anthoni Polcari accomplishes both of those tasks, yet takes his artistry a step further.
“There’s something intangible about his caliber of talent,” says North State Symphony conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett. “This is an element you can’t teach. He gets the music at the gut level. And right now he’s playing better than ever.”
The 19-year-old Shasta High graduate, the symphony’s Young Artist Audition winner from last year, will perform the first movement of Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto on Saturday evening at the Cascade Theatre in Redding (and Sunday afternoon in Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium). It’s part of the North State Symphony’s “Beauty Rising” concert, which will include Haydn’s Symphony No. 88, as well as works by Respighi, Stravinsky and Canteloube. The Redding performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Astonishingly, Polcari is in his sixth year as a regular member with the symphony. He’s currently studying with Jean-Michel Fonteneau, who teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory. His father Lou Polcari is the instrumental music teacher at Shasta High School.
In addition to cello, Anthoni Polcari is also an accomplished bassist who performs with top jazz ensembles around the region.
“I’m blown away by his diversity of talent,” Wiley Pickett says. “He’s also a composer who studies with (accomplished Simpson University composer) Dan Pinkston. He’s just got a lot of talent and potential.”
Polcari said soloing in collaboration with so many talented musicians is a bigger thrill ride than something you could find at a theme park.
“It is literally the word awesome,” Polcari said. “I’m into roller coasters with big drops and things like that, but this tops it. It’s really an honor and really pretty exhilarating.”
Molly Mahoney, the symphony’s winner in the college/university division, will also perform. The mezzo-soprano and Chico native will sing four songs from Canteloube’s Chants D’Auvergne.
Mahoney completed her undergraduate degree in music at Chico State University, and her master’s degree in vocal performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Like Polcari, she’s also an accomplished jazz musician.
“They’re two really talent classical musicians who are also jazz players,” Wiley Pickett says. “They’re among the two best young artists we’ve had.”
This past Sunday in Chico, another pair of young musicians from Redding won the Young Artist Audition event and will both perform with the symphony next year. Shasta High sophomore Greg Manuel, a flutist, collected $700 for his win in the high school division. Shasta College tenor Rafael Delsid won the college division and will collect $500 as part of his prize.
“As a flutist myself, I tend to be a tough judge,” said Wiley Pickett, who was one of three judges for the competition. “(Greg) competed with a piece I’ve played, so I know how tough it is. He’s kind of like Anthoni, in that his musicality, skill and talent are all there.”
Wiley Pickett said music fans in the region are in for a pleasurable evening on Saturday at the Cascade.“It’s probably the most fun concert I’ve conducted in the last ten years,” he said. “It’s light, which is not necessarily my personality, but it’s not fluffy. The Stravinsky piece is one of hardest we’ve ever done. It’ll really show off the individual players in a way people haven’t heard from the symphony.”
As for Wiley Pickett’s words about his “intangible” talent, Polcari is modest in his response. He says the conductor really nurtures young musicians who display a passion for music.
“Being introduced to music at such an early age, I guess I see (music) in a different way,” Polcari says. “Rather than it being a class or an obligation, it’s more a part of me now. I’ve been doing it so long, it’s more out-of-body or sometimes this sense of just beyond the infinite.”
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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