Review: Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe season kicks off on a high note

The evening’s entertainment was provided by Jeremy Watson, Ben Gulley, Jake Roemer, Zach Morrow
The evening’s entertainment was provided by Jeremy Watson, Ben Gulley, Jake Roemer, Zach Morrow
(Jon Clark)

Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe opened its 2019-20 season Sept. 13 with the outstanding tenor, Ben Gulley and his good friends Timeless Trio. There is a wonderful party feel to each of these CCRSF concerts. The evening begins with a lovely wine bar provided by Northern Trust, and a delicious light supper catered by Whole Foods. At intermission concert goers are treated to desserts by Yummy cupcakes. All this and incredible music as well!

For this season opener, the concert took place in the very fine acoustics of the Village Church sanctuary. Ben Gulley, a rising star in the opera world, has the remarkable ability to transition with ease and authenticity from his amazing lyric tenor operatic voice, to Broadway, jazz and pop.

The concert began with Ben Gulley strolling onto the stage, masterfully singing La Donna É Mobile from the opera Rigoletto. When the applause died down, he segued into the next selection by sharing the story of a prince, his lost love and his envy of a shepherd boy’s simple life in the heart-wrenching Lamento di Frederico from L’arlesiana. The audience went wild!

Timeless Trio provided an interlude then, performing a delightful jazz rendition of a Chopin etude, and then the program took a turn to Broadway. Ben Gulley and pianist Jeremy Watson of Timeless Trio had developed this piece working as writers and producers for the premiere of the Broadway show Ragtime. The powerful Make Them Hear You! was sung by Ben Gulley with tremendous conviction – a truly dramatic Broadway rendition.

It would take pages and pages to fully describe this evening of exquisite music. The audience was alternately thrilled by Ben Gulley and Timeless Trio as they presented jazz, pop and opera. A few more highlights include Timeless Trio – 100 years of American Music in 5 minutes! Hilarious and a sing-a-long as well, concluding with God Bless America - standing ovation! And then Victory, written by Ben Gulley, this time sung in an authentic pop-style voice – no trace of opera.

Somewhere in the middle of this concert, Ben Gulley announced that he was about to sing some “church music” in honor of his grandmother. He shared that he had been told about 30 minutes before the concert that she had suffered a stroke that day, and he wanted to honor her with Steal Away to Heaven – a medley of Steel Away, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, and Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, all the while fighting to keep his composure.

This artist, Ben Gulley, and his co-presenters Timeless Trio, absolutely delighted the audience from beginning to end. Some of the other selections presented were Maria - West Side Story, My Funny Valentine – a jazz rendition, and Pure Magic – a combining of the Willy Wonka song, Pure Imagination, and the Beatles’ Imagine. The show stoppers, as well as the first two arias, were Impossible Dream – Man of La Mancha, and the obligatory, Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot. What an honor to hear this amazing talent as he rises in the world of opera, and indeed, the world of music.

Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe is proud to present two more concerts in the Village Church Fellowship Hall this season:

Friday, Oct. 25: Shades of Bublé

Friday, Jan. 24: Shaun Johnson

Friday, March 27: Celtic Angels with Celtic Knight Dancers

You won’t want to miss any of these!

For more information regarding the concerts and tickets go to

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