James, thank you for your inspiring leadership. You do amazing things with that group. (Last night's PASSION) was definitely one of the most memorable performances of my musical career.
It is an honor to play for you. See you tomorrow, Becky
-- Becky Crowe April, 2015
I watched TOCCATA-Tahoe Orchestra and Chorus's exquisite St. Matthew Passion tonight. It was a supremely moving way to observe Good Friday, an emotional journey with beautiful voices and a stunning orchestra. Thank you, James Rawie, for a brilliantly directed work. And thank you, Maria, for bringing some heaven into my life tonight with your arias. Brava!
-- Stephanie Arrigotti April, 2015
Kudos Elizabeth, Joy, Donna and James. I love this (czardas). I remember the first time I heard Elizabeth play was at Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno. She was playing Bizet, Carmen. When she played the first high note, I thought I had never heard such a pure, beautiful sound and the tears just kind of shot out of my eyes. I just had to let them flow because I was moved beyond control. What a beautiful instrument, so artistically and magnificently played by such beautiful woman. And I found out later when she was signing a CD, that Elizabeth is a very nice, very sweet person as well as being enormously talented. Good luck on your Soirees, I hope I can attend one someday.
-- Kathleen Kimmel February, 2015
Marilee and I wanted to add our note of congratulations on the historic audience turnout this afternoon in Incline. We were thinking of the start of Toccata 10 years ago when sometimes there were more people on the stage than in the audience.The growing success has got to be gratifying and it is so well deserved. We just wanted to say a special "thank you" for bringing such culture and talent and wonderful music to our region. You have enriched our lives immensely!
-- Ray and Marilee Garland February, 2015
I was so glad I could see and hear [the concert] and [I was] so impressed with the musicianship and singing. Your orchestra is amazing! All the soloists were outstanding. I loved the trumpet duet and felt so blessed to hear Michelle again after about 10 years. She is a delightful girl, so talented and so sweet. I don't think there was a dry eye in the church when she sang the duet with trumpet. She had this beautiful smile on her face throughout the whole piece, and then when she sang the last note, the tears just started streaming...for me too. What a wonderful tribute you gave to Mark and Toni [Lord]. I don't think any of us will ever forget it. By the way, I LOVE Anna Helwing's voice! It is so pure, and without the strong vibrato which can be so distracting. I thought the chorus had a beautiful blend and balance. I admire your efforts with the younger musicians James, they are extraordinary, and you are giving them a chance to build their repertoire, get experience and learn from you. They are very fortunate.
-- Kathleen January, 2015
To my friends on Facebook from the Truckee, Reno and Lake Tahoe area....this is a MUST PERFORMANCE!!!!!!!-If you have never heard Elizabeth Pitcairn, you need to put this on your Bucket List and you will be hooked for life. She is performing with TOCCATA over the Valentine's weekend in the area. Check out the website and bring your special someone and fall in love with the music that we are so privileged to have in this area. Trust me..if you lived in NYC, you would be paying hundreds to hear a program like this.
-- Diane Young McCormack January, 2015
Toccata is A musical journey of thrilling proportions, treat your inner senses and growing love of fine local artists performing live, just for you
-- Joanie Nygren January, 2015
Dear James, and of course Nancy, too:
What a GREAT CONCERT at Shepherd Of the Sierra! Thank you and all of the instrumentalists and singers so much!!! I wish I could have gotten there earlier, but from Sound of Music on, it was FABULOUS! I'd loved to have been in the chorus, but it was really fun to be part of the wonderful, VERY APPRECIATIVE audience this time. We were loving every minute of every selection, had a great time enjoying the music, and left inspired and uplifted. I wish you could have heard all the wonderful comments as we were leaving the building, still visiting about how much we had enjoyed the evening. Wishing you more great performances in July and August and hoping to be singing with you again by September, Nancy Mielke. BRAVO! July 15, 2015
-- Nancy Mielke July, 2015
James I look forward to St. Matthew's Passion every year. Pastels, bunnies and eggs were great as a child, yet, this gift from Bach has made Easter a profound experience. Hearing it for the first time convinced me to sing with the TOCCATA choir. It is sometimes difficult to falsely accuse, condemn, judge, betray, and deny Christ. And the choir numbers, though beautiful, remind me how fickle we, as humanity, can be. The rehearsals and performances increase my resolve not to do those things in regular life, and to have a more Christ-like empathy for those who do. Your commitment to St. Matthew's Passion has been a deep blessing to me and my family as well. This music is breathtakingly wonderful, yet it is the message that truly makes it the best piece of music ever written.
-- Richard Haines March, 2015
“I was deeply moved emotionally and spiritually by the St. Matthew Passion on Palm Sunday. My parents drove from the Sacramento area specifically to enjoy the Toccata performance. We all were so thrilled with the superior performance of St. Matthew Passion. Of special note, your pre-performance explanation was a delight. I could go on and on…”
-- Timothy Reynolds March, 2015
That was a very successful Messiah performance at St Theresa. I heard a woman screaming with joy at the end, and I screamed with joy too! God Bless TOCCATA!!
-- Luis Torres 2014
Ich habe genug! What a magnificent concert last night... We left feeling your music all the way into our souls. Thank you so much.
-- Marty and Judy Herman June, 2013
What a resounding success you had with the Lennon Requiem--It was a fabulous evening, and congratulations on the huge crowd. It was obvious that everyone loved it and had a great time.
-- Ruth Schnabel August, 2012
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! Please tell [Maestro Rawie] how much we enjoyed it and mom at 96 was so happy!
-- Dallas Westbrook August, 2012
What a wonderful, eclectic concert you gave last night! ...we enjoyed it so much. My husband, John, was especially impressed with YOUR versatility. ("That man can do anything!")
-- Gina Biondi August, 2012
TOCCATA brings more musical excellence to our community. We need TOCCATA.
-- Marianne Maytan 2005
I want you to know that last night was a dream performance. You and the orchestra did everything perfectly, and I felt so comfortable and the music flowed. I couldn't ask for a finer accompaniment. Those are my thoughts, and they are based on seeing possibilities for the future as proved by the dramatic improvement of the level to last night, which was really something to be proud of. Congratulations to you and Nancy for all you have achieved there, and will continue to.
-- Elizabeth Pitcairn
Looks like things are really taking off for Toccata! Congratulations! All the hard work is starting to pay off and I’m delighted to see it. Good job, folks!!
...thanks to you & Nancy for all you and your other musical geniuses do. You make our community a better place to live.
-- Jim & Patti Clark
Congratulations on continued success and rabid determination in enhancing Tahoe Reno music. We are all beneficiaries.
-- A. W.
I had the repeat pleasure of hearing the TOCCATA...perform the Messiah with CHS [Carson High School] Choir on dec 22 at the Capital CC. Having had two kids at CHS with friends in choir and drama, I know most of these kids, which makes their performance that much more enjoyable!!
The trumpet player was especially brilliant-please give him my compliments
I am already looking forward to next year.
Thank you for a wonderful evening
PS Even the tickets are classy!
PPS I even bought your CD.
-- Diane S.
A PERFECTLY PLEASANT TUESDAY EVENING
The value of Artown’s accessible July cultural events can often only be gauged and appreciated by the subtle absence of other activities. This post is written not as the Artown Chair, but as a parent of two teenagers. In our home Tuesday evening, not a single television show was watched; not a single video game was played. Even facebook got the night off. At my 12-year-old’s request, we went to hear the Chamber group TOCCATA perform. Under the direction of conductor James Rawie, we were treated to a primarily Baroque program at St. John Presbyterian Church. Featured soloists included fourteen-year-old Misha Raffiee on violin, Josue Casillas on flute, Marina Roznitovsky on harp, Deanna Said on viola, David Brock on organ and Joy Strotz, vocal soprano. It was a perfectly pleasant way to pass a summer evening! As chair of Artown, I can recite the Mission Statement:
"[T]o strengthen Reno's arts industry, enhance our civic identity and national image, thereby creating a climate for the cultural and economic rebirth of our region."
As a parent, I know now in even greater depth that Artown’s Mission Statement is far more than mere words: the objective holds the key to this area’s cultural future, for this generation and those to come. I’m not a Luddite – I use a Blackberry, watch cable TV and yes, I disseminate information on Facebook. But on warm July evenings, I’d rather be out with my family celebrating the Arts.
-- Ellen Jean Winograd Chair, Artown Board of Directors