Making Classical Music a Little Friendlier


Imagine this: a string quartet jamming on Coldplay and Beatles tunes.

That’s exactly what’s happening this month, when four members of the Veridian Symphony Orchestra perform The History of Rock & Roll Through the Eyes of a String Quartet at First Lutheran Church in Yuba City.

Putting a fun spin on familiar tunes is just one way VSO is attempting to make classical music accessible to the masses, says co-founder, artistic director and cellist Rebekah Hood.

“We want the average everyday person to be able to go to a concert and feel they ‘got it,’ that it didn’t go over their head,” she says. With that in mind, Hood formed the Yuba-Sutter community-based orchestra about three years ago with her violinist colleague Helen Graham. The two also run a Suzuki music school in Yuba City and work as freelance musicians.

Being a freelancer and “driving all over the place to perform” was one of the things that inspired Hood to form a locally based orchestra. “As wonderful as the orchestras are, performing at different places and not personally knowing anyone in the audience was, for me, kind of devastating,” explains Hood, who has performed with orchestras from coast-to-coast and all around Northern California.

With VSO, she’s made a concerted effort to bridge that gap. Instead of performing the music cold, without context, the musicians offer “verbal program notes” prior to performing each piece, providing a little background and perspective about the music and its composers. And audience members can mingle with the musicians at receptions after every show.

“There’s often a dividing line between audiences and performers,” Hood says. “But, hey, we’re just everyday people. This just happens to be our job.”

The History of Rock & Roll Through the Eyes of a String Quartet performance takes place Jan. 19 and 20 at First Lutheran Church, 850 Cooper Ave. in Yuba City. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit