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Moreno to be honored at Harmony in Our Lives concerts Sunday

Angelo Moreno, a Davis teacher and director of several junior high and high school orchestras, is the winner of the Harmony in Our Lives Award this year. George Streng/Courtesy photo

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From page A1 | November 09, 2011 |

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What: Harmony in Our Lives Concerts

When: 1:30 and 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St.

Tickets: $10 adults, $5 students, available at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St., or at the door

Conductor and music teacher Angelo Moreno will be honored with this year’s Harmony in Our Lives award at two concerts Sunday afternoon.

At the 1:30 p.m. show, performers include the Chávez Elementary School Chorus, the Willett Elementary School Chorus, the Emerson Junior High Chorus, the Davis High School Concert Choir, the Davis High School Madrigals and the West Valley Barbershop Chorus.

At the 4 p.m. show, performers include the Patwin Elementary Chorus, the St. James School Choir, the Harper/Holmes Junior High Chorus, the Davis High Advanced Treble Choir, the Davis High Jazz Choir and the West Valley Barbershop Chorus.

Both concerts are at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, available in advance at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St., or at the door. These shows often sell out, so advance purchase is recommended.

Proceeds will go to the Davis School Arts Foundation to support music education in all Davis schools.

Moreno grew up in the Napa area, and started violin lessons when he was a first-grader. He played in groups like the Santa Rosa Youth Symphony and the Napa Youth Symphony, and also played electric violin in garage bands.

Moreno attended UC Davis, where he studied conducting under D. Kern Holoman, earning a master’s degree. Moreno also was the concertmaster with the UCD Baroque Ensemble for six years, working under the direction of Phebe Craig and Michael Sand, and studying the baroque violin style with the latter.

“Going into teaching was always a goal of mine,” Moreno said.

He began teaching in the Davis schools in 2000, and became a protégé of longtime local music teacher Margaret Neu, herself a past recipient of the Harmony in Our Lives Award.

“Margaret Neu fought for years to keep the school district’s string music program alive, when it was in danger of being cut,” Moreno said. “She laid the groundwork for what we’re doing now.”

At various times, Moreno conducted orchestras at Emerson and Holmes junior high schools and Davis High School. When Moreno started, DHS had one orchestra with about 35 student musicians. Now, the school has three orchestras with a combined total of nearly 150 student musicians, a phenomenal amount of growth in just a decade.

The Davis High School Symphony, an auditioned group, has received numerous awards, including Grammy Signature awards in 2007 and 2011, and recognition last spring from Downbeat Magazine for Best Classical Music Performance by a High School Ensemble.

There’s also a Davis High Chamber Orchestra, a non-auditioned orchestra in which any player with the equivalent of junior high orchestra experience can play.

The high school orchestras also include the Davis High Baroque Ensemble, a group formed just a few years ago that performs on gut-strung period instruments, with harpsichord accompaniment. The high school group gives a joint concert annually with the UCD Baroque Ensemble.

Holoman, also a past recipient of the Harmony in Our Lives Award, said, “I’ve always thought that the very best conductors are the ones who have, in addition to everything else, managed to click with their communities — and stick around.

“Angelo clicked from the beginning and, step by step, fashioned a community approach to music that’s reached all of us. And I like it that he plays so well, since, after all, the violinist-conductor is where the conducting profession began, long ago.”

Another past Harmony in Our Lives honoree, Larry Snyder, described Moreno as “an immensely popular teacher” who “gets the best from his students. … He has also created a true baroque ensemble at Davis High, a feat unheard of below the university level.

“His consummate skills as a violinist in both period and modern styles, often conducting with his own instrument in hand, can’t help but spur his students on.”

Moreno is also an organizer, advocate and team-builder for the district’s string music program, meeting with volunteers, planning trips — like this year’s upcoming trip to Seattle — and helping with fundraising.

In addition to his teaching duties, Moreno conducts the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s Academic Orchestra, and typically works in summer music camps. He also has a private studio with numerous violin students.

And when time permits, he performs with various ensembles on his standard modern violin, his baroque violin or his electric violin.

“While I’m being recognized with an award, the credit should be shared with all the volunteers and students who helped make this program as good as it is,” Moreno said. “I’m one person, but it’s really the sum of everybody’s hard work and commitment to making music together, and the organizing that goes into that, that really matters.”

The list of past winners of the Harmony in Our Lives Award reads like a who’s who of music in the community. In chronological order, the past winners aree Ida Mae Harter, Richard Brunelle, John Draper, Dorothy West, Fredrick Lange, Margaret Neu, Rachel Kessler, Martha Dickman, Nancy Adams, Anne Gibbs, Larry Snyder, the Davis Musical Theatre Company, Mary Klisiewicz, Stephen Peithman, Celia Cottle, Bob Gonzalez, Karen Gardias, Vivian Meyer, Jan Coker, D. Kern Holoman, Mindy Manville and Claudia Krich.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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