My Turn: Classical strings bring notes of Christmas to Squaw Valley Chapel | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Classical strings bring notes of Christmas to Squaw Valley Chapel

Lew Allison

The Squaw Valley Chapel, its white, potato-chip shaped ceiling vaulting upward to reveal a rank of snow-draped pine and fir trees outside its windows, shimmered Sunday afternoon (Dec. 14) in the reds and greens of its altar and its Christmas tree, to the music of violin, viol and harp.

The chapel and the trustees of the Wayne and Sandy Poulsen Fund presented Marina Roznitovsky and Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio, both of whom teach at the University of Nevada Reno, in a recital of classical music with a zest of holiday favorites.

In introducing Ms. Roznitovsky, who played the harp, and Ms. Sant’Ambrogio, who played the violin and viol, the Rev. Arthur Domingue, a United Church of Christ minister and pastor of the Squaw Valley Chapel, said the recital was the first of a series of social events benefiting the Poulsen fund.

“In 1960, to provide people coming to Squaw Valley for the Olympics with a place of worship, the Poulson family donated the land for this chapel,” Rev. Domingue said. “The Poulsen fund was established to ensure that the chapel will always be here.”

Ms. Roznitovsky opened the recital with a touching performance of the traditional “Greensleeves,” followed by two sonatas by the 18th Century composer Dominico Scarlatti.

Ms. Sant’Ambrogio played an early 20th Century violin sonata by Eugene Ysaye, which she said the composer dedicated to the violinist Fritz Kreisler, who died in 1962. “You will hear some of Kreisler’s sweet style in places throughout the piece,” said Ms. Sant’Ambrogio. Her performance won warm applause.

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Ms. Sant’Ambrogio also played “Capriccio Op. Posth. No. 9 for Solo Violo” by Henri Vieuxtemps, who said he played in his first concert at the age of four in the 1920s and became a master of Beethoven by 14.

As Ms. Sant’Ambrogio played J. S. Bach’s “Ave Maria,” the notes presented a brilliant holiday theme within the windows that by then were reflecting the chapel’s Christmas lights in place of the darkened forest.

Finally, the two women joined in a rousing performance of “Fantasie for Violin and Harp,” written in 1907 by Camile Saint-Saens, that brought the more than 60 members of the audience to their feet.

“Thank you,” said Ms. Sant’Ambrogio, adding, “Now, there’ll be a special reward in heaven for anyone who’ll help us put the chains on our car.”

After a round of goodnights among musicians and listeners, Ms. Roznitovsky and Ms. Sant’Ambrogio trudged out into the snow with new friends to mount those tire chains for the ride back to Reno.