Vallejo Festival Orchestra


Saturday, March 11, 2023
at 7:30 in the evening

Maestro Thomas Conlin will lead the Vallejo Festival Orchestra on a musical journey to “The
Land of Midnight Sun” on Saturday, March 11 at Vallejo’s historic Empress Theatre. Soprano
Katherine Whyte will join Conlin and the VFO for the San Francisco Bay Area premieres of six orchestrated songs by Scandinavia’s greatest composer, Jean Sibelius.
The program also includes Sibelius’s rousing, turbulent tone-poem, “Finlandia,” which evokes the struggle of the Finnish people against the dominance of Russia under the Czars, and his monumental Symphony No. 2, which, according to Conlin, “vividly depicts Finland’s immense lakes, fjords, jagged rocks, streams, majestic snow-covered mountains, and beautiful northern lights.”

“Once heard, the elemental power and grandeur of this music will be seared into your brain
forever,” Conlin added, “along with a feeling of exaltation that can only be expressed through music. Its immense natural force, the magnificence of its climaxes and its sonic symphonic splendor will never be forgotten!

“Massive waves of sound and intense, powerful emotions characterize Sibelius’s symphony.
‘Awesome’ and ‘majestic’ are the best words to describe his orchestral tone-paintings of the
bleak, icy, vast Finnish landscape. His songs, on the other hand, are intimate, sometimes
rapturous settings of the most enchanting poetry by well-known Swedish poets.”
Although often performed in recital with piano accompaniment, six of Sibelius’s most popular songs will be heard in their orchestral versions for the first time in northern California: “Spring is Flying,” “Was it a dream?”, “The Tryst,” “Autumn Night,” “Sigh, Rushes, Sigh,” and “Black Roses.” A seventh song, “The Diamond on the March Snow,” has been performed by the San Francisco Symphony.

Whyte will sing the Sibelius songs in Swedish while translations into English are projected above the orchestra. Conlin was the first to employ this technology, in 1968 at the American premiere of Mozart’s opera “Lucio Silla” with the Chamber Opera Society of Baltimore. A decade later they debuted at New York City Opera and soon “supertitles” appeared at opera productions world-wide.

Opera Today has praised Whyte’s “keen artistic sensibility” while the San Francisco Classical
Voice singled out “her glamorous, vibrato-rich voice”. Following her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2007 in Strauss’s “Die Ägyptische Helena,” she has returned to the company for productions of “Rigoletto,” “Jenufa,” “Parsifal,” “Don Giovanni,” “ Così fan tutte” and others. Recent and upcoming engagements for Ms. Whyte include her celebrated Countess Almaviva in “Le nozze di Figaro” with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, her debut with Syracuse’s Symphoria and with Greensboro Symphony performing Poulenc’s Gloria, a return to New Choral Society as soprano soloist in “Carmina Burana,” a solo recital at Gordon College, her debut with Heartbeat Opera in “Der Freischütz,” and Fiordiligi in “Così fan tutte” with Opera Grand Rapids.

Founded by Conlin in 2020, the Vallejo Festival Orchestra is the resident ensemble of the
Vallejo Center for the Arts. Performances at the acoustically perfect Empress Theatre have
included “Three Tenors! -the Next Generation,” “From Vienna with Love,” “The Greatest
Wagner Concert Ever,” and “Tchaikovsky’s Star-Crossed Lovers.” All were played to standing-room-only audiences. Conlin has guaranteed goosebumps to anyone attending “Music from The Land of Midnight Night.” Tickets are available at or by calling 707-552-2400.

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Empress Theater

Established 1911

Contact Info

Empress Theatre

330 Virginia St, Vallejo, CA 94590

Phone: 707-552-2400
Box Office Hours: 

Tues – Sat 11-4 PM