Musical History

“It’s very much a story in two parts – first a tragedy, and then a tribute,” Jayce Ogren says of John Wineglass’ Sacred Land: A Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.

Born out of an intimate musical and philosophical friendship between composer and soloist, Monterey Symphony music director Jayce Ogren will offer a world premiere to open the final concert of this year’s season this weekend.

Sacred Land: A Concerto for Violin and Orchestra is a joint effort by three of the Peninsula’s most popular musicians – Ogren, violinist Edwin Huizinga and the orchestra’s composer-in-residence, John Wineglass.

All three men are effusive about the premiere; their excitement is palpable.

“It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever played before,” says Huizinga. “It has been quite a journey learning the musical language of John’s telling the story of the uprooting of the Indigenous people and tribes of the Monterey Bay.”

Wineglass originally went to Big Sur Land Trust’s Glen Deven Ranch to compose an homage to the majestic beauty of Big Sur in 2015. “I was thinking of writing a beautiful, melodic symphony celebrating the physical glory that is Big Sur,” Wineglass recalls, “but the very first night I was down there, what came out of nowhere were these ominous, angry, almost nasty melodies. I was beyond surprised, and I had absolutely no idea what the meaning of those melodies were until now.”

“It’s a very honest piece,” adds Ogren. “John doesn’t shy away from the true history here… Art sometimes asks us to go to uncomfortable places to understand things. The subject matter resonates deeply with me.”

To wrap both this program and the 2022-2023 season, Ogren has chosen a massive composition, Maurice Ravel’s masterpiece Daphnis et Chloé, which runs for nearly an hour.

“To my ears, it’s one of the greatest pieces ever written,” says Ogren. “It’s indeed quite rare to hear an orchestra this large, and this composition demands dedicated, nonstop, difficult playing from every single musician for the entire 50 minutes. Quite challenging, and calling for intense stamina.”

Asked to characterize his first season at the helm, Ogren is predictably bold and unguarded.

“It’s been really great,” he says. “The atmosphere at both rehearsals and concerts has just been electric… I was brought on to explore some new directions and I believe we have begun that process.”

MONTEREY SYMPHONY 7:30pm Saturday, May 20 and 3pm Sunday, May 21. $44-$85. Sunset Center, San Carlos and 9th, Carmel. 646-8511,

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