Music News: Oct. 2, 2012
Would you like to hear prominent musicians perform the music of Jacques Castérède, Ysaÿe, Harbison, Bruce Broughton, Iosif Andriasov, and Dalit Warshaw... at Davies Symphony Hall? Sounds unlikely, but it's possible.
Once upon a time, a quarter century ago, San Francisco Symphony had an intriguing, challenging "New and Unusual Music Series," led by 40-year-old John Adams. The SFS of today is far away from that sort of thing, excepting three or four token newbies each season on subscription concerts, but there is a way to hear other than Beethoven at Davies Hall.
SFS musicians program and perform music of living composers and works rarely found in the regular season of any big orchestra; the opportunity is offered by the Chamber Music Series in Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. On top of attractive programing, even admission prices are lower than usual: $36 for all seats. Usually that means all the premium places in the hall as attendance is still growing, filling only a third of the house or so.
The series begins on Oct. 14, with Jacques Castérède's Prélude et Danse (Timothy Higgins, trombone; Paul Welcomer, trombone; John Engelkes, bass trombone; Jeffrey Anderson, tuba; James Lee Wyatt III; Raymond Froehlich, percussion; Keisuke Nakagoshi, piano); Ysaÿe's Sonata in C for Two Violins (Chen Zhao and Florin Parvulescu, violin); and Schubert's Piano Quintet in A Major (Trout) (Diane Nicholeris, violin; Yun Jie Liu, viola; David Goldblatt, cello; Charles Chandler, bass; Gwendolyn Mok, piano).
On Dec. 9, John Harbison's Twilight Music Trio for Horn, Violin, Piano opens the program (Nicole Cash, horn; Dan Carlson, violin; Marc Shapiro, piano); Dohnányi (whose chamber music should be performed more often) is represented with Serenade in C major for String Trio, Op. 10 (Yukiko Kurakata, violin; Katie Kadarauch, viola; Sébastien Gingras, cello); and Brahms' Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34 (Nadya Tichman, Dan Nobuhiko Smiley, violin; Jonathan Vinocour, viola; Amos Yang, cello — the pianist is Yefim Bronfman).
Feb. 3 will bring Bruce Broughton's Hornworks — Theme and Variations for 2 Descant Horns, 3 Horns in F, and Tuba (Robert Ward, Nicole Cash, Jonathan Ring, Bruce Roberts, Jessica Valeri, horns; Peter Wahrhaftig, tuba); Ravel's String Quartet in F Major (Polina Sedukh, David Chernyavsky, violin; Wayne Roden, viola; David Goldblatt, cello); and Brahms' Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60 (Sarn Oliver, violin; Matthew Young, viola; Sébastien Gingras, cello; Akimi Fukuhara, piano).
The April 7 concert features Iosif Andriasov's Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano, Opus 7 (Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Brindel, cello; Marilyn Thompson, piano), George Crumb's Madrigals, Books I-IV (Catherine Payne, piccolo; Scott Pingel, bass; Douglas Rioth, harp; James Lee Wyatt, percussion); Bruch's Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano (David Neuman, clarinet; Wayne Roden, viola; June Oh, piano); and Hindemith's Octet, 1958 (Dan Carlson, violin; Jonathan Vinocour and David Kim, viola; Peter Wyrick, cello; Mark Wright, bass; David Neuman, clarinet; Steven Dibner, bassoon; Bruce Roberts, horn).
Did I say no Beethoven? Nothing but Beethoven on the series' May 12 concert, which is part of the orchestra's Beethoven festival. The program includes String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2 (Yun Chu, Amy Hiraga, violin; Nanci Severance, viola; Peter Wyrick, cello); String Quartet in E-flat Major, Opus 74, (Harp) (Dan Carlson, Melissa Kleinbart, violin; Katie Kadarauch, viola; Amos Yang, cello); String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 127 (Mariko Smiley, Kelly Leon-Pearce, violin; Gina Feinauer, viola; Margaret Tait, cello).
The series concludes on June 23, with Dalit Warshaw's Transformations for String Quartet and Theremin (John Chishom, Chunming Mo, violin; Yun Jie Liu, viola; Barbara Bogatin, cello; Warshaw, theremin); Warshaw's Nizk’Orah for Cello, Piano, and Theremin (Barbara Bogatin, cello; Robin Sutherland, piano; Warshaw, theremin); Martinu's Fantasia for String Quartet, Piano, Oboe, and Theremin (Jonathan D. Fischer, oboe; John Chisholm, Chunming Mo, violin; Yun Jie Liu, viola; Barbara Bogatin, cello; Robin Sutherland, piano; Warshaw, theremin); and Brahms' Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 26 (Nadya Tichman, violin; Katie Kadarauch, viola; Michael Grebanier, cello; Marc Shapiro, piano).
There has been plenty of bad news about the Sacramento Philharmonic and Sacramento Opera during recent months when such was the order of things everywhere, but the orchestra's returning Executive Director Jane Hill reports that major efforts are being made to put things right:
The last regular season was 2011-2012. Due to contributed income shortfalls last season (particularly concert sponsorships), in January, the board considered closing the orchestra at the end of the fiscal year, on June 30, 2012. There was a community-wide, successful fund-raising effort in April and May, and so we are going ahead with the 2012-2013 season.
The new contract with the orchestra calls for a minimum of four concerts; last time, we had five, so we are not in an expansion mode.
The nature of the new season continues Music Director Michael Morgan's vision of a contemporary orchestra: great classical composers, noteworthy guest artists from among "the up-and-comers," and work by a living composer on each concert, with the composer present when possible.
The Philharmonic's 16th season opened last weekend with "¡Viva la música!," celebrating cultural traditions of the area's Central and South American communities. Works by Daniel Binelli, Jimmy Lopez, Miguel del Aguila, and Jose Elizondo preceded Manuel de Falla's Three Cornered Hat Suite No. 2.
There was also a world premiere, Construir by Christopher Caliendo, a California composer, whose career has taken him from the television show Dallas to the Vatican, where he was the first American to have his work performed at the Contemporary Sacred Music Festival in Rome.
The rest of the season: "Prodigies — Beethoven and Beyond" in October, with Conrad Tao as soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1; "The Astonishing Rachel Barton Pine" in January; "Heroes," a family concert in February; and "Mozart and More" in April.
Morgan comments: "The orchestra in Sacramento has made tremendous artistic strides. What it needs is a larger, more diverse, and more adventurous audience. The Opera has the same issue. If the two groups successfully merge they will make an interesting artistic entity. The trick will be growing a large enough audience for it."
Sacramento Opera's season starts on Thursday, with "Opera at the Crest," with "Opera at Three Stages," Oct. 7, and will feature two staged works: "The Barber of Seville," Nov. 16 and 18; Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" on Feb. 22 and 24.
Last week, we put together the early betting line on which Merolini will make the 2013 Adler Fellows list, and when the announcement came, the speculation seemed close enough. One addition was the unusual appointment of Phillipe Sly, bass-baritone, a member of not this year's Merola class, but of 2011 — skipping a year, during which he became a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and appeared in several Canadian Opera Company productions.
This was the Music News list, now confirmed:
- Hadleigh Adams, bass-baritone, New Zealand
- Jennifer Cherest, soprano, Maryland
- AJ Glueckert, tenor, Portland, OR
- Chuanyue Wang, tenor, China
- Erin Johnson, mezzo-soprano, New Jersey
- Sun Ha Yoon, apprentice coach, South Korea
Continuing Adlers from the current fellows:
- Marina Harris, soprano
- Joo Won Kang, baritone
- Laura Krumm, mezzo
- Ao Li, baritone
- Robert Mollicone, coach and accompanist
- Renée Rapier, mezzo
Friend and colleague Alexandra Ivanoff, expat classical music writer in Istanbul (and singer of the Ave Maria in the wedding scene of Prizzi's Honor), has pondered reviews of this weekend's San Francisco Symphony premiere of Drift and Providence by 'son-of-John' Sam Adams, both by Jeff Dunn and myself. Just as Jeff (and other writers), I found an obvious resemblance to film scores:
The 20-minute work does credit to the novice composer, with brilliant orchestration, a big sound, commanding interest — at least for a while. It has all the characteristics of a film score: It has atmosphere, it's accompanying, underlying something, but it's difficult to say what.
I've noticed that the music of most young composers I've heard in the last five years is heavily influenced by movie music of the epic genre. Close your eyes and it accompanies action or describes emotional scenes. Not that music in the past doesn't have these qualities, but the new stuff feels "filmic" in a way to suggest that John Williams has been a tremendous subliminal influence to everyone, whether they know it (or like it) or not.
I asked this question: "Do you hear a profound influence of film scores on young composers?" of James MacMillan at Grafenegg this summer, where he was composer in residence and giving seminars for young composers. His response was "Yes. At one time that would have been frowned upon. But it [Hollywood] has seeped into our subconscious and we're seeing lots of descriptive music being written now."
I have a name for the new genre: Silver Screen.
Speaking of films, here is the 2012-2013 "Opera and Ballet in Cinema" season from Emerging Pictures. HD presentations are shown on screens in nearly 400 multiplexes, art houses, museums, and performing arts centers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For Bay Area theaters carrying these screenings, see location listing.
- Oct. 2: Opera Australia’s La traviata by Handa Opera on a stage floating in Sydney Harbor, directed by Francesca Zambello, starring Emma Matthews in the title role.
- Oct. 7 and 9; La Sylphide in a new production from the Bolshoi Ballet.
- Oct. 14 and 16: Rossini's L’Italiana in Algeri from Teatro Comunale di Bologona, with Anna Maria Sarra as Elvira, Michele Pertusi as Mustafà, Edgardo Rocha as Lindoro, and Marianna Pizzolato in the title role.
- Oct. 21 and 23, La Scala Ballet presents L’altra metà del cielo ("The other side of the sky"), by Martha Clarke, using the music of Italian rock star Vasco Rossi, known for his drug use, racism, and misogyny. It's advertised as "a piece that's nothing short of magical as Clarke transforms his lyrics ofhatred into a piece that glorifies the feminine identity."
- Oct. 28 and 30: Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera from Teatro Regio di Torino, with Gregory Kunde as Riccardo, Gabriele Viviani as Renato, and Oksana Dyka as Amelia.
- Nov. 4 and 6: Swan Lake from the Royal Ballet, with Zenaida Yanowsky and Nehemiah Kish.
- Nov. 11 and 13: Siegfried from La Scala's new Ring cycle, with Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde, Daniel Barenboim conducting.
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