Jason Victor Serinus
Jason Victor Serinus is a professional whistler and lecturer on opera and vocal recordings. He is editor of Psychoimmunity and the Healing Process: A Holistic Approach to Immunity & AIDS, and he has written about music for Opera News, Opera Now, American Record Guide, Stereophile, Carnegie Hall Playbill, Gramophone, AudioStream, San Francisco Magazine, Stanford Live, Bay Area Reporter, and other publications.
Articles by this Author
Although Johannes Brahms carried great pain over his apparently unconsummated relationship with Clara Schumann, the heartfelt beauty of his most popular music speaks far more of resolution and transcendence rather than enslavement to suffering. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the great German Requiem, Op. 45, with which Michael Tilson Thomas has chosen to close San Francisco Symphony’s three-week Brahms Festival. Ein Deutsches Requiem is huge and monumental, if not as heaven-shaking as Verdi's masterpiece.More »
On paper, American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard reads like a filly breaking free from the pack. At 25, she has already debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in Roméo et Juliette, singing Stéphano alongside Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna. Other star turns include her recent Zerlina with Chicago Opera Theater, a forthcoming Cherubino in Santa Fe, and a gig at the Cincinnati May Festival. Orchestral appearances past and future include the Saint Louis Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Boston Symphony.More »
Lynn Harrell is one vital man. In the middle of an extended phone conversation about his forthcoming S.F. Jazz gig — he plays J.S. Bach’s complete Suites for Solo Cello this Thursday and Friday night in Grace Cathedral — the voice of a child punctuates the proceedings.More "Time Out for Bach" »
Saturday's programming for the Gold Coast Chamber Players was so delightful that it brought smiles to the face of many an attendee. I don't know whether artistic director and violist Pamela Freund-Striplen came up with the concept on her own, but it was pure inspiration to pair Roland Kato's piano quintet arrangement of Maurice Ravel's Mother Goose (Ma Mère l'oye) with William Bolcom's droll Fairy Tales, Eric Whitacre's 5 Hebrew Love Songs, and Robert Schumann's rousing Piano Quintet, Op.More »
Peyote rituals, Chinese lullabies, Indian ragas, children’s toys, sacred bonds, and secular madness all dance and swirl in ritualistic fashion in Terry Riley’s extraordinary The Cusp of Magic. Commissioned by the Kronos Quartet — with whom Riley has collaborated ever since he met its founder, David Harrington, while Riley was teaching at Mills College in the '70s — the work celebrates the composer's 70th birthday.More »
Bryn Terfel sure knows how to work a crowd. After his rendition of Roger Quilter's Go, Lovely Rose left adoring attendees at his Cal Performances recital in profound silence, he smiled and said, "You're a fabulous audience. You can breathe, you know."
Such a winking acknowledgment of his impact was only part of the shtick.
What a joy to experience Kate Royal in person! Looking for all the world like a Greek goddess, draped in a form-fitting, floor-length black dress secured over one shoulder, the elegant young soprano gracefully entered Hertz Hall to present her Cal Performances recital.More »
"Are all choral concerts like this?" asked my extremely sensitive sister-in-law. Had she not continued her thought, I could have responded in many ways.
"No, they are not," I might have said. Of the thousands upon thousands of choral groups that grace the American landscape, precious few are as fine-tuned and impeccably voiced as San Francisco Choral Artists. Even close up, in the second row of Oakland's St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where the fine acoustic covers precious little, the voices blend smoothly.
As soon as soprano Elza van den Heever started to pour forth her large, stunning sound, a story about Wagnerian soprano Kirsten Flagstad came to mind. For Flagstad's first Metropolitan Opera audition, she was sent to a small rehearsal room whose proportions so cramped her vocal projection that no one sensed her ultimate potential.More »
Great music has a way of repeating itself, especially in recital. Just three months ago, SFCV carried my review of a Cal Performances recital by baritone Mariusz Kwiecien that included Ravel's final song cycle, Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, and Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe.More »
Three cheers for Michael Morgan. What he and his Oakland East Bay Symphony may lack in subtlety, refinement, and nuance, they more than balance with passion and commitment. How gratifying it was to hear him announce, during a postintermission fund-raising spiel, that a full 25 percent of his orchestra's budget is devoted to educational outreach.More »
In programming an American Bach Choir concert with the ambitious title "Vocal Visionaries," conductor Jeffrey Thomas set his sights high. Not only did he choose choral music that, in his opinion, displays the transcendent, visionary gifts of its composers, but he also strove to transport his audience with radiant vocalism.More »
Lucas Meachem sauntered onto the stage of Temple Emanu-El's Martin Meyer Sanctuary on Sunday as though walkin' into the High G Saloon. Swinging open wide the doors that separated him from everyone seated in the joint, he declared, "I'm Lucas. I'm from North Carolina, and I'm going to be singing some great songs tonight. I know you don't expect someone to start a recital like this, but I'm going to do what I can to change that …"
You can say that again.
As Bang on a Can approaches its 20th anniversary, the group's founders — composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe — can rightly rejoice that their creation has become a major presence in the new-music scene.
Dedicated to "commissioning, performing, creating, presenting, and recording contemporary music" (that's what the official bio says), the organization has expanded to encompass the annual Bang on a Can Marathon, People's Commissioning Fund, Bang on a Can All-Stars touring ensemble, the group's Summer Music Festival and Institute, various cross-disciplinary collaborations,
If the name Composers Inc. evokes thoughts of a corporate approach to music making, think again. This may very well be the most open-minded, eclectic new-music series in town.
Composers Inc. was formed in 1984 as a nonprofit advocate for living American composers. Its programming is determined by a collective of six artistic directors: Robert Greenberg, Rafael Hernandez, Frank La Rocca, Jeffrey Miller, Martin Rokeach, and Allen Shearer. All are active composers who support their habit by teaching or lecturing.
“Was he hitting all the notes?” I asked the highly respected Bay Area pianist who was assiduously following Messiaen’s score in the seat in front of me at UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall.
“Hitting all the notes?” he replied with more than a touch of incredulity. “I’m too busy trying to figure out the rhythms!”
That anyone could have managed to hit all the notes and make sense of Olivier Messiaen’s impossibly difficult score would have been accomplishment aplenty.More »
“I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t be distracted by the visuals,” my companion explained after the concert.
All well and good, if in fact music had been the primary component of this performance of Terry Riley’s Sun Rings (2002).
Even before countertenor David Daniels reached center stage, it was clear that we were in for a special afternoon. The grin on his face, matched by the smile from accompanist Martin Katz, was unforced, relaxed, and filled with confidence. Daniels was letting us know that he expected to be in top form, and take us on a joyride.More »