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Jessica Balik

Jessica Balik is a flutist and has a PhD in historical musicology from Stanford University.

Articles by this Author

Chamber Music Review
December 8, 2016

The soprano and percussionist add spice to the mix as Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s newest members.

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Modern Classical Review
May 17, 2016

A great American composer shows his variety in a well-balanced, entertaining performance at chamber/text, the free concert series.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
February 29, 2016

Harpsichordist Derek Tam joined the group in three pieces all composed in 2016.

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Chamber Music Review
February 16, 2016

The ensemble pulled together a diverse group of pieces for its program at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall.

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Modern Classical Review
November 10, 2015

The ensemble joined students from Aragon High School in the West Coast premiere of Thomas Trachsel’s The Apocalyptic.

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Modern Classical Review
February 24, 2015

In the third installment of a year-long project, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players offered two excellent premieres inspired by death and loss.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
January 22, 2015

A star-studded week wrapped up as John Adams conducted his Grand Pianola Music and Malcolm MacDowell and Elvis Costello headlined A Soldier's Tale.

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Recital Review
December 8, 2014

A ZOFO duo recital includes dazzling musicianship and a bit of flair and theatricality, too.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
November 8, 2014

Interesting programming and a live performance of Chris Brubeck and Guillaume Saint-James’ Brothers in Arts herald an interesting season for the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

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Chamber Music Review
October 27, 2014

A hip and welcoming nine-member ensemble presents a range of eminently listenable works, beautifully played.

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Chamber Music Review
October 5, 2014

The Calder Quartet played its second in a series of three concerts devoted to performing all six of Bartók’s quartets at SF JAZZ Center’s Miner Auditorium.

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Opera Review
August 8, 2014

Hydrogen Jukebox, the dizzying psychological opera that Allen Ginsberg created with Philip Glass is courageously performed by Berkeley's West Edge Opera.

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Festival Review
July 26, 2014

An inviting melange of musical styles and subjects takes the high road at the 12th annual Festival of Contemporary Music.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
May 20, 2011

The Club Foot Orchestra seamlessly meshes music with film in a presentation of Fritz Lang's legendary silent movie Metropolis under a starry sky in Saratoga.

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Modern Classical Review
April 26, 2010

On Monday night, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players used French Composer Philippe Hurel’s words — "his own space of freedom" — for the theme of a program featuring four pieces that variously relate to the idea of finding free space.

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Chamber Music Review
February 20, 2010

Shadows are necessarily murky entities. They create spaces in which edges soften and distinctions blur. The program title “Flowing Shadows,” therefore, suited a concert emphasizing convergence between multiple artistic disciplines. This concert, given Saturday in the San Francisco Conservatory’s Hume Concert Hall, was the fourth of five performances in this year’s BluePrint series, a new-music program under the direction of Nicole Paiement. The overriding theme of BluePrint’s current season is “Crosscurrents ... where arts converge.”

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
January 25, 2010

Even though atonal music has existed for a long time, the composer Helmut Lachenmann has observed that many listeners are still so accustomed to tonal music that tonality continues to govern their listening habits. Such listeners might regard tonality as an intrinsic or “natural” musical system, against which contemporary music sounds, by contrast, “unnatural.” But Monday in Herbst Theatre, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players performed a concert that associated contemporary music with nature. The concert did not, however, associate the natural with the familiar.

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Chamber Music Review
January 9, 2010

The music of Steve Reich can sound deceptively simple. After all, for about 50 years, his name has been associated with so-called minimalism. The term vaguely denotes music built from the repetition and layering of simple musical modules over harmonies and temporal pulsations that remain relatively constant. Yet at Stanford University’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium on Saturday, an all-Reich concert performed by So Percussion, a percussion quartet, made the virtuosic complexity of Reich’s music abundantly clear.

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Chamber Music Review
December 4, 2009

Since Christmas celebrates the birth of the Holy Son, a piece about the death of an earthly girl might seem out of place on a holiday concert. This weekend, though, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated chorus directed by Lynne Morrow and Richard Grant, delivered a winter concert that revolved around precisely such a piece.

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Upcoming Concert
November 1, 2009
Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian composer who lived through tumultuous historical events. He was born in 1891, and during his youth music teetered between the so-called “Romantic” and “modern” periods. Following the Russian Revolution of 1918, he moved first to the U.S., then to Europe. For reasons that still bewilder scholars, he chose to return to the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1930s, despite iron-fisted Soviet censorship of the arts; he died in 1953 in Moscow. Prokofiev’s compositional output reflects the diversity of these stylistic and political circumstances.

His music is the subject of “The Prokofiev Project,” a four-day festival primarily sponsored by Stanford Lively Arts. The program, running Nov. 12-15, will bring renowned scholars and artists together on the Palo Alto campus for a series of discussions and concerts. Joseph Horowitz, a cultural historian who is serving as the project’s artistic director, also curated last year’s similar “Stravinsky Project.” This year’s Prokofiev festival also features visiting pianist Alexander Toradze, noted for his interpretations of Prokofiev’s music. Horowitz describes him as “a torrential and subversive artist whose own Russian/American odyssey is anything but simple.”

The Project’s first event will occur on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Campbell Recital Hall of Stanford’s Braun Music Center. Horowitz and Toradze will join faculty pianists Kumaran Arul and George Barth in a discussion comparing historical recordings and films of the composer performing his own works to modern-day renditions of his music. Arul will perform Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (1915-1917), and Toradze will discuss two works: the Seventh Piano Sonata and the Second Piano Concerto. Arul and Toradze will also perform these pieces during subsequent concerts of the festival.

The first formal concert will be a piano recital by Toradze, Arul, and Barth, given in Dinkelspiel Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 13, at 8:00 p.m. Commentary will explain some differences between Prokofiev’s various musical styles. The pieces being performed also illustrate the composer’s stylistic breadth.

Although Prokofiev himself was a pianist, he hardly limited himself to composing keyboard works. On Saturday, Nov. 14, at 8:00 p.m., the Stanford Symphony Orchestra will perform some of his orchestral music. Horowitz will lead a preperformance talk in Dinkelspiel, and, under the baton of Jindong Cai, Toradze will perform the Second Piano Concerto with the orchestra. The program also includes tunes from Prokofiev’s most famous ballet, Romeo and Juliet. Prokofiev actually wrote three orchestral suites of numbers from the ballet, and this program features pieces from all three. Additionally, the concert will feature life-size puppetry by Robin Walsh.

The Project’s final event, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2:30 p.m. in Dinkelspiel, is intended for families. The Stanford Symphony will perform Romeo and Juliet again, along with Walsh’s puppets and a narrator. Significantly, this version of the lover’s tale features a family-friendly, happy ending.

Stanford Lively Arts is committed to supporting collaborations between scholars and performers. Especially because this particular collaboration surveys the composer’s varied output, “The Prokofiev Project” should appeal to a wide audience — one that includes children and adults, as well as novices and even experts on the composer. Although Horowitz himself notes that some questions about Prokofiev “in fact can never be solved,” they likely will be productively explored by this multiday extravaganza.

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