Music News: March 19, 2013
San Francisco Conservatory of Music board chair Timothy W. Foo announced on Wednesday the appointment of David H. Stull, 46, as the school's next president, to take office on July 1.
He will succeed Colin Murdoch, president since 1992, and responsible for overseeing the school's move to its current $80 million location in the Civic Center.
Stull is currently dean of the Conservatory at Oberlin College, where he headed a major project for a new building and numerous new programs, including the creation of a record label and orchestral tours to Carnegie Hall and China.
If I didn't know better, I'd doubt Brenden Guy's resume. How can anyone that young (a Dorian Gray-ish looking 28) have degrees in clarinet from the Royal College of Music (junior year at the Manhattan School of Music) and the San Francisco Conservatory; make his orchestral debut with the Bournemouth Symphony, then perform with them, plus Berkeley Symphony, Symphony Parnassus, Magik*Magik Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, S.F. Conservatory Orchestra, and others.
A busy chamber-music performer, and noted art PR professional, Guy is a champion of both English and contemporary music, dedicated to promoting the lesser known works of English composers. To pull all these related threads together, Guy is launching a San Francisco concert series, "Curious Flights."
The concerts — in April, June, and October — will have $10 and $15 admisson, proceeds to be donated to a S.F. Conservatory fund, created for assisting international students studying music in the U.S.
Highlights of the programs include the West Coast premiere of Britten's Movements for a Clarinet Concerto, Dylan Mattingly's Six Night Sunrise (performed by René Mandel), residency by British composer Edwin Roxburgh, and much more.
Let's at least look at the remarkable inaugural concert, at 8 p.m., April 26, in the Community Music Center, 544 Capp St.:
Brian Holmes, Updike’s Science, with Indre Viskontas, soprano, and Ian Scarfe, piano; commissioned world premiere of Joseph Stillwell, Fantasy Pieces, with Valinor Winds (Guy, Sasha Launer, Jessie Huntsman, Alexis Luque, and Caitlyn Smith).
Also, Paul Schoenfield's Café Music, with the Aleron Trio (Solenn Séguillon, Anne Suda, and Theresa Yu); Khachaturian's Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano, with Guy, Kevin Rogers, and Miles Graber; Arnold Bax' Nonet, with the Curious Flights Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Guy, who says:
In the field of classical music, there are so many remarkable works that have been forgotten or neglected. The famous works with which we are all familiar are well taken care of. It is the works that have slipped through the cracks, and indeed those being written by composers today, that deserve to be found and given new life. I’ve always felt very blessed to be a classical musician and I believe that it is both an honor and a duty to continually seek out these works and give them their deserved chance to flourish.
The June concert, on June 4, in the Conservatory Concert Hall, will celebrate the music of Britten, including the infrequently performed Wind Sextet and Phantasy Quintet in F Minor.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of comments on the web and in e-mails I received. Where necessary, I am withholding names, beginning with the first item, which comes from a relative of a freelance musician:
Extras & Subs
What happens to the extras and subs who were contracted to go on the tour and turned down other work offers in order to go?
They aren’t the ones striking but I suppose they lose all the money they were to make these weeks, which can be difficult for a freelancer with an unpredictable work schedule.
From Musical America
Report by Susan Elliott:
So that’s that. Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, apparently dissatisfied with being the third highest paid symphony musicians in the country, rather than the first, will not be making the coming week’s trip to the East Coast.
They walked off the job on March 13, causing the cancelation of four concerts last week. Negotiations have continued, some late into the night with the tour looming, but to no avail. The orchestra called off the tour today.
From Anonymous on the Adaptistration blog:
... how many orchestras give raises or cut salaries of ALL administrative employees based on the outcome of labor negotiations? For example, if there are salary increases in the musician’s contract, are administrative employees also given raises and vice versa?
The article from management says that musician salaries were increased an average of 4.3% per year in their last contract. Was there a blanket increase given to all administrative staff?
Bewildered More Than Angry
Michael Strickland on the SF Civic Center blog:
When I asked one of the musicians outside why they were so angry, the response was interesting. "We're not angry so much as we are bewildered. Why are we being treated this way?" It seems time for some healing and less disconnect.
What They Deserve
Susan Greene on the Adaptistration blog:
As a 10-year veteran as CEO of a regional orchestra, I cannot tell you how deeply I believe these incredibly talented and highly educated musicians deserve to be paid what top-level doctors and attorneys are paid. For most of them, they’re not even close.
That said, I participated in contract negotiations virtually sickened by the "row I had to hoe." It begins with the fact that this country does not value the arts in general and live symphonic music in particular.
When one can hear 103 of the most talented musicians in the world LIVE for $15 and still, there are empty seats ...
Not As Bad As at the Bolshoi
janinsanfran on the SF Civic Center blog:
It is amazing the damage a lack of respect can cause among people who, relatively speaking, are doing just fine. I'm instinctively with the musicians, but they need to communicate better how they've been dissed if they expect sympathy. And that's not easy.
Just read David Remnick [in The New Yorker] on the Bolshoi. Somehow I suspect that in some venues of elite art, that sort of thing festers. At least that's not what we've got here. Being San Francisco, nobody would be too surprised.
Running a Business of Their Own
Fabio Fabrici on Slipped Disc:
Dear musicians of the SFS, I suggest the following solution to your problems with management: All of you quit your jobs effective immediately. Then you build a new orchestra, but you do it with a business model where all of you own shares in the orchestra.
You determine your base salary and benefits collectively. You share profits collectively. You hire managers and all other staff which you then have on payroll, not the other way around. They do the fund-raising for you. What is stopping you?
"I make dances because I can’t help it," says Paul Taylor, 82. "Working on dances has become a way of life, an addiction that at times resembles a fatal disease. Even so, I’ve no intention of kicking the habit. I make dances because I believe in the power of contemporary dance, its immediacy, its potency, its universality.'
Once again, San Francisco Performances — a long-time partner to the 59-year-old Paul Taylor Dance company — is bringing his modern-dance masterpieces to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, May 1-5, including the hilarious-magnificent Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal).
West Coast and San Francisco premieres include Kith & Kin (Mozart), To Make Crops Grow (Grofé), Gossamer Gallants (Smetana), and The Uncommitted (Pärt and others). Among returning favorites: Company B, to songs sung by the Andrews Sisters.
Robert Johnson reported last week in The Star-Ledger:
... powerful adventures await dance fans at Lincoln Center, where the Paul Taylor Dance Company opened its annual run last week.
The genre varies from horror to romance, as Taylor conjures scenes of hair-raising suspense or lyrical abandon, but this choreographer’s imagination has never been more vividly displayed. The extensive season repertoire includes two stellar premieres and a host of masterworks.
Of all responses to the news about Kiri Te Kanawa's scheduled appearance on Downton Abbey, my favorite comes from Geoffrey Blum.
He writes that Petula Clark would have been a better choice:
"When you’re alone
And life is making you lonely
You can always go ... Downton!"
When Diablo Symphony's Matilda Hofman strikes up the band for the first time in her capacity as music director Friday and Saturday this week, she will lead both the celebration of the orchestra's 50th anniversary and the performance of a composition by Joyce Johnson Hamilton, who led the orchestra for 31 years.
Orchestra president Patrick Campbell writes:
In the midst of ongoing artistic contention and musician strife in "other symphonies," the venerable Diablo Symphony Orchestra, with its volunteer musicians, upon retirement of its conductor after 31 years, used one year to select a slate of conductor candidates, then presented the following season with five guest conductors chosen from the initial slate, and is now completing its 50th birthday under the baton of Matilda Hofman, the winning conductor elected by a vote of the musicians.
In addition, the retiring conductor, Joyce Johnson Hamilton, not only returned to the opening concert as the featured artist, but has also composed a special piece, Celebrate Today!
Also on the program, the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor, featuring Yu Gong (2013 Young Artist Competition Winner), and Schumann's Symphony No. 1 (Spring). A brave politician, Walnut Creek Mayor Cindy Silva, will guest conduct the Thunder and Lightning Polka by Johann Strauss.
Live and free of charge today (March 19), beginning at noon PDT, the video of Junge Deutsche Philharmonie's performance of the symphony will be streamed on the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall. Registration is required, but it's free and the site doesn't send spam too frequently.
Just to remember that there is a tomorrow, here's a note from San Francisco Symphony that has nothing to do with labor relations. That is true, appearances notwithstanding: Robin Sutherland made this decision long before the strike began.
In a previous News item about Sutherland's 40 years with both SFS and the S.F. Conservatory, two upcoming concerts were mentioned:
- As soloist in Ingvar Lidholm’s Poesis in Davies Symphony Hall, April 11-14, at concerts conducted by Herbert Blomstedt (the program also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) and Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde). These concerts will be broadcast on 89.9/90.3/104.9 KDFC and kdfc.com at 8 p.m. on April 23.
- A special concert at the Conservatory on April 24, "Forty Years On ...", commemorating both Sutherland's admission to the school and years with SFS.
The latter, a much anticipated event, is on as scheduled. The SFS announcement about the April 11-14 concerts, however, says:
Pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi will replace Robin Sutherland who has withdrawn from the San Francisco Symphony’s performances of Ingvar Lidholm’s Poesis April 11-14 at Davies Symphony Hall.
This is Nakagoshi’s debut with the San Francisco Symphony. He began piano study at age 10 in his native Japan, and eight years later came to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he earned degrees in composition and chamber music. He represented the Conservatory at the Kennedy Center, and trained also with Emanuel Ax and Gilbert Kalish, before collaborating with a variety of soloists and chamber ensembles.
Nakagoshi currently serves as pianist in residence at the Conservatory. He and pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann have a piano four-hands duo named ZOFO standing for "20-Fingered Orchestra." ZOFO’s recording entitled Mind Meld was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award in the category of Best Chamber Performance.
No, not the opera by Carl Maria von Weber (which should really be performed much more frequently than it is, especially in this country).
Nor are we talking about the imperious fairyland king of Midsummer Night's Dream, or Oberon, König der Elfen, by Paul Wranitzky, or the hero of F.L.Æ. Kunzen's 1789 Danish opera Holger Danske.
No, this Oberon is a cat, owner of SFCV's Lisa Hirsch, who wrote a remarkable obituary on Monday upon Oberon's demise. This column — unlike Jon Carroll's in The San Francisco Chronicle — has had a lamentable dearth of feline discussions.
Lisa adds this note to the obituary: "When we were talking about names for the energetic young kitten, one of my suggestions was Wotan. Donna nixed it and we settled on Oberon, which turned out to be approximately equivalent to Wotan, since he always did think he was in charge.
- Wed June 5, 2013 (All day)
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