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Heavenly music

Paul Andersen

GLENDALE -- When he was choosing the music for the first concert of

the upcoming season, Sidney Weiss wanted to pick a program that was

inspirational for the holidays.


Just hearing the title, “Heavenly Music,” it’s safe to say the music

director and conductor for the Glendale Symphony Orchestra has achieved

what he set out to do.

The concert is at 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. As a


special holiday treat, the Glendale Community College Concert Singers

will present a free outdoor performance of traditional holiday carols in

The Alex forecourt prior to the concert, beginning at 6:45 p.m.

On the program is Handel’s devotional Sinfonia from “The Messiah,”

Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299, by Mozart, and, what Weiss describes

as one of the greatest compositions of all time, Beethoven’s Symphony No.

3, “Eroica,” Op. 55.

The concert marks the beginning of the orchestra’s 76th season, which


Weiss has labeled Music for the Millennium.

“Beethoven originally dedicated this heroic symphony to Napoleon

because he empathized with the Frenchman’s democratic ideals,” Weiss


“However, when Napoleon named himself emperor, Beethoven became

disillusioned and violently scratched the man’s name from the score. Of

course, it is still an extremely inspired work,” he says.

To find the soloists for the Mozart Concerto, Weiss did not have to


search very far.

“We have two outstanding soloists with marvelous reputations right

within our orchestra,” he enthuses, “Sheridon Stokes, our principal

flutist, and Marcia Dickstein, our harpist. We appreciate the chance to

showcase their talents.”

As far as Stokes is concerned, he prefers this concerto to Mozart’s

other two flute concertos.

“There is almost a celestial aura to the piece,” says the flutist, who

has been with the Glendale Symphony since 1957. “It is truly a work that

is in a class by itself.”

Stokes is also in a class by himself. Since being drafted by Alfred

Newman into the 20th Century Fox Orchestra at the age of 20, Stokes has

performed on thousands of movie and television soundtracks and other

recordings. It is his flute solo that is featured on the theme to

“Mission Impossible.”

In addition, he has been professor of flute at UCLA since 1972, and he

has written some of the most widely used textbooks for the instrument.

“I guess you could say I have several lives going at once,” he admits.

“Life as a musician is hectic, but fun.” As for the harp, the Mozart

concerto is unique, says Dickstein.

“Mozart was not somebody who wrote much for the harp,” she says. “He

was not a big fan of the instrument. In fact, this piece is one of the

only harp features from a major composer working in that era.”

The eight-year Glendale Symphony veteran is also an educator, teaching

harp at Cal State Long Beach and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and, like

Stokes, she has textbooks in college book stores under her name.

This harpist is heard often on film soundtracks, and she has been a

featured soloist with a number of orchestras and chamber groups.

Dickstein also has a special affinity for contemporary music, which she

pursues with the much-lauded Debussey Trio, a flute/viola/harp chamber


“Soundtrack work and orchestra work are really two different worlds,”

she says. “It keeps me incredibly busy, but I love what I do. And the

diverse playing opportunities give me reason to practice. After all,”

she adds, laughing, “you have to keep your chops up for the meatier


If you go:

WHO: The Glendale Symphony Orchestra, Sidney Weiss, conductor.

WHAT: “Heavenly Music,” featuring Handel’s Sinfonia from “The

Messiah,” Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299 (Sheridon Stokes,

flute; Marcia Dickstein, harp), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. The GCC Concert Singers will perform

traditional carols in The Alex forecourt, beginning at 6:45 p.m.

WHERE: The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale.

TICKETS: $15 to $45, available through Telecharge (800/233-3123) or at

The Alex box office.

PHONE: 500-8720.