Published on March 29th, 2024


Transformation – March 16, 2024
Featuring Ronaldo Rolim, piano


On Saturday, March 16th, Symphony Tacoma filled the Pantages Theater stage for Transformation, their fourth classic concert of the season. As the pre-concert announcements concluded, Symphony Tacoma Music Director Sarah Ioannides delivered a surprising twist. She announced that she would not be conducting the first piece of the evening, Elfrida Andrée’s Intermezzo. Instead, she handed over the podium to her conducting assistant, Dr. Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, sparking a wave of anticipation and intrigue among the audience.


Dr. Spatola-Knoll is an award-winning conductor, musicologist, violist, collaborative pianist, champion for unheard voices, and North America’s foremost expert on Andrée. The world premiere of his edition of her Intermezzo on March 16th was a testament to his unique expertise. Under his graceful guidance, the orchestra showcased their light touch and skill by performing this lovely, romantic piece, likely previously unknown to them and or the audience, until it was programmed this season. A Symphony Tacoma subscriber commented, “I loved the recognition of a rarely heard piece composed by  a 19th century Swedish woman who was determined to make a difference in the world, not only for her music, but also for women’s rights. Her piece was lovely.”


Following the well-deserved applause for Dr. Spatola-Knoll and the Symphony Tacoma musicians, Sarah returned to the stage, accompanied by Brazilian pianist Ronaldo Rolim. From the first touch of the keys, Rolim’s virtuosic prowess and power were palpable. The orchestra and Rolim weaved through Liszt’s famous Piano Concerto No. 2; their energy unwavering despite the heart-racing workout it must have been. Each musical phrase surpassed the previous one, leaving the audience on their feet as the last note resonated. The audience was then treated to an encore, the luscious third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata in G minor, performed by Rolim and Symphony Tacoma Principal Cellist Alistair MacRae. In a post-concert survey, attendees were asked what they enjoyed the most. More than half talked about how much they loved the Liszt, one person responded, “I thought the pianist was unbelievably brilliant in his playing. A flawless technician AND musical genius!”


After an intermission filled with restroom breaks, drink refills, and chatting with friends, the audience reentered the hall, bursting with anticipation for the final piece of the evening. The lights dimmed, Sarah raised her baton, and those four famous notes rang out across the concert hall, crisp and clean as the spring sunshine Tacoma was honored with earlier that evening. Everyone was transformed and transfixed throughout the four movements of Beethoven’s masterpiece Symphony No. 5. As it came to an end, you could have heard a pin drop until Sarah’s arms dropped and the audience erupted in applause. One audience member summed up the evening best saying, “The Liszt concerto was a wonderful piece of music, and the soloist was terrific. Of course, ending with Beethoven’s Fifth was simply fantastic.”