SRJC Orchestra presents East Meets West


SRJC Orchestra, violinistSeptember 21, 2023, Santa Rosa, CA — The Santa Rosa Junior College Orchestra will present a very special concert under the direction of its music director, Cynthia Weichel, at 7:30 pm on Friday, October 20, in Burbank Auditorium on the Santa Rosa campus, at 1501 Mendocino Avenue. General admission tickets are on sale now: $12 for adults, $6 for students, seniors and children. There is a $4 fee for parking on campus. 

Violinist and SRJC student Quinn Han will perform the iconic “Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto,” composed by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang in 1959. Based on the story “Liang Zhu,” a beloved Chinese legend of the tragic romance of Liang Shan-bo and Zhu Ying-tai, the Butterfly Lovers is an Eastern folktale equivalent to the West’s Romeo and Juliet. The tale has been retold for centuries in many different artistic forms: mainly music, but also theater, opera, film, television drama, and animation. This particular violin concerto is recognized as a significant achievement for its refined usage of China’s folklore and traditional musical traditions, opening a new opportunity for Western audiences to appreciate Eastern music.

Completing the program will be:“As the Heart Soars” by Chun Wai Wong, 2016 – A California premiere performance, this piece was written for the people of Hong Kong by the young composer, who is himself a native of the island. Wong describes the piece, “The impetus of the music depicts Hong Kong as a vibrant city while the fusion of a wide range of musical styles from the East and West reflects the city as a multicultural metropolis.”

“Overture to Alessandro Stradella” by Friedrich von Flotow, 1844 – This romantic opera is loosely based on the colorful life of the prolific and infamous 17th century Italian composer Alessandro Stradella. The overture opens with a beautiful melody played by a quartet of French horns, followed by a dramatic and exciting allegro (first movement).

Symphony No. 8, Unfinished by Schubert, 1822 – A piece with a complex history, Schubert’s manuscript contained two fully scored movements and sketches for a third. The complete movements were premiered in 1865, nearly 40 years after Schubert’s death, and demonstrate his considerable gift for beautiful melodic lines, translated brilliantly to the symphonic form.

The 56-piece SRJC Orchestra is formed of college students and community members ages 17 to 80, from all over Sonoma County.

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Bio for Soloist Quinn Han

Violinist Quinn Han began study of classical violin at four years old in Shenyang, China. She served as concertmaster for several youth orchestras and ensembles throughout China and South Korea from 1993 to 2000. Ms. Han won a gold medal in China’s Solo Instrumental Competition (1998) and another gold medal in the country’s National Acoustic Music Competition (1999). Her solo album, Collection of Popular Songs for Violin, was published by Chunfeng Literature and Art Press in 2005. At Beijing Dance Academy, Han founded the Zhi Yin Music Club, which was awarded  as a “Pioneer Union” by the city of Beijing in 2009. She also played electric bass for the Chinese National Drama Theater for 600 performances between 2008 to 2010. Han was certified as a higher education teacher in China and taught in Chinese universities. 

Currently, Han serves as concertmaster of the SRJC Orchestra, and has also performed with the Sonoma County Philharmonic. She plays electric violin at the New Vintage Church, and since 2016, has played for several local church ensembles in more than 300 services.  Han holds three Master of Arts degrees in depth psychology, leadership, and dance theory. Her next goal in fulfilling her dream of a US-based music career is to earn a master’s degree in music and to continue coaching and mentoring college students, bringing a diversity of voices to music, and transforming people through music.


Bio for Music Director/Conductor Cynthia Weichel

Music Director Cynthia Weichel is on the faculty of Santa Rosa Junior College, where she teaches music appreciation and music history, and is the studio violin/viola instructor. Weichel is a native of Santa Rosa and an alumna of SRJC. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from CSU Sacramento. Ms. Weichel has been conducting orchestras in Sonoma County for over 35 years. She is currently the founder/conductor of the North Bay Sinfonietta and the popular Symphonic Reading Orchestra. She was previously the conductor of the SRJC Orchestra from 1999-2012, and was also the Assistant Conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestras for over 10 years.

As a professional violinist, she has been a member of the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Napa Valley Symphony for over 20 years. As a violin instructor, Ms. Weichel has taught for numerous schools in Sonoma County. She spent almost 20 years as manager and education director for the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, and was also the operations director for the California Symphony.

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