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2017 Spaghetti Samurai: A Musical Melodrama

Director’s Notes

An unusual musical dialogue took place during the 1960’s. Italy was trying to capture the spirit of the American Wild West by remaking Japanese samurai films as westerns. Music played an important role in this exchange. Italian composers were influenced by the American “western” sounds of the 1900’s - American folk and country, by songwriters such as Marty Robbins and Bob Wills. The 1930’s in the United States was a melting pot of genres - Jazz horns and strings from the big band era were used on the new rockabilly scene, creating an interesting fusion. This “twang” sound came to embody the sound of the west and connoted free spirit and individuality. That “twang” guitar made its way to Italy, where composers like Ennio Morricone blended it with the long tradition of Italian sentiment, creating an iconic “cowboy” sound in spaghetti western films. Japanese composers, like Masaru Sato, also used American jazz and western guitar, blending it with traditional Japanese music to create a similar effect for Japanese films. 

The main characters in Samurai and Spaghetti Western films shared similar traits: nonchalant in everything they do, yet always doing the right thing, and doing the right thing with style. Jazz represented freedom and a break from the status quo, so it was perfect for these archetypes.

This concert came to be in an effort to challenge the musicians at Sonoma Academy while playing to their strengths. A strong band, featuring seniors with a knack for the “twang” sound, and sophomores willing to try new and challenging material, but also interested in jazz. A strong choir, with some outstanding voices that could match those wicked parts the Italians were writing in the 1960’s. 

Nathan Riebli


Music Director - Nathan Riebli
Technical Director - MacKenzie Nekton
Lighting Design - MacKenzie Nekton, Isabelle Elder, Olivia Egan, Gabriel Roché, Katie Shepardson, Anika McCarthy-Belash, Jeremy Sherman
Sound Engineer - Paul Lamb

Choral Ensemble

Ceilidh Austin
Quincy Higuera
Lisa Lei
Julia Maliarik

Emily Ibañez Arroyo
Isabelle Elder
Olivia Jacobs
Julia Maliarik

Joe Headley
Julia Maliarik
Marco Tonda

Ryan McGraw
Elijah Molenkamp
Ryan Tao

Instrumental Ensemble

Keaton Burrows (electric guitar, percussion, vocals)
Isabelle Elder (trumpet, percussion)
Isaiah Krimel (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet, oboe, synthesizer)
Justin Schaefers (electric guitar, double bass, vocals)
Patrick Sullivan (drum set, percussion, vocals)
Morgan Piper Cordova (piano, melodica, percussion, electric bass)

Guest Performers

Katie O'Hara, cello
Grace Rubardt, cello
Steve Adams, alto saxophone
Hal Forman, trumpet
Ned Heran, trombone
Spencer Causey, french horn
Ashley Holmberg, violin
Yvonne Shu, violin
Carol Vines, cello
Maxwell Pierce, bass

Emmy O’Brien: Teacher/Texas Red/Townsperson
Jeremy Sherman: Sheriff/Emperor Meiji
2500 Farmers Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Sonoma Academy is...

The only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On its beautiful 34-acre campus nestled at the base of picturesque Taylor Mountain in South Santa Rosa, Sonoma Academy students are able to explore their interests and passions in a challenging environment that prepares them for college and life beyond.