Lisa Hirsch is a technical writer. She studied music at Brandeis and SUNY/Stony Brook.
Articles by this Author
Henry Purcell never wrote an opera titled The Witch of Endor, so the question arose as to what, exactly, Urban Opera would be performing over Halloween weekend. The answer turned out to be something equal in musical brilliance and theatrical flair to the company’s inaugural production.More about Urban Opera »
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have a long history of successful and seemingly idiomatic performances of French music, and thus Saturday’s program, advertised as “French Classics,” looked both appealing and promising.More about San Francisco Symphony »
On Friday, Old First Concerts presented the premier concert by EUOUAE, a new chorus whose membership is drawn from many of the Bay Area’s professional and semiprofessional choirs. Formed and directed by Steven Sven Olbash, EUOUAE performed the rarely heard Messe de Tournai, a musical milestone in that the 14th-century Mass is the first-known complete polyphonic (multivoiced) Mass collected in a single manuscript.More about Old First Concerts »
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), the second opera of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, opened at San Francisco Opera on Thursday night with a thrilling, deeply moving performance that bodes extremely well for the full Ring to be presented in June 2011.More about San Francisco Opera »
The British composer Thomas Adès has been writing intricately structured and colorfully orchestrated music for nearly two decades now. Before he became a composer, though, he trained for a career as pianist, and he has the formidable technique and deep musicianship of a great player.More about San Francisco Performances »
New Century Chamber Orchestra’s current program, titled “Serenades and Dances,” bookends a pair of shorter, lighter works around a core of two large-scale mainstays of the standard repertory, Antonin Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings and Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. Big kudos are due Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, for her programming and musical leadership, because on Thursday, at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, all four works got top-notch, absorbing performances, with the Britten lifted to greatness by the brilliance of tenor Brian Thorsett and horn player Kevin Rivard.More about New Century Chamber Orchestra »
The San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music concert on Sunday marked George Benjamin’s third and last appearance as the Phyllis C. Wattis Composer in Residence. He was represented on the program by two works, Viola, Viola; and Piano Figures. Both are superb additions to their respective repertories. (See SFCV’s recent feature on the composer.)More »
The award-winning, Princeton-based Brentano String Quartet has a proven ability to create unusual programs.This year, the quartet brings to Cal Performances a program of two lyrical masters of the quartet form, in which Franz Schubert's Quartettsatz, D. 703, and Quartet in G Major, D. 887, frame Benjamin Britten's Quartet No. 3.
With autumn upon us, the Bay Area's classical music groups are tuning up for hundreds of intriguing events. San Francisco Classical Voice asked several of our critics and editors to comb through the performance announcements available to date and pick their favorite choices for September through December. We've put the season in chronological order for the convenience of music-lovers organizing their datebooks. More "The Season Ahead: A Preview of Fall Concerts" »
Soprano Patricia Racette is in town for an important role debut: She’s singing all three soprano leads in Puccini's Il trittico at San Francisco Opera, a feat only a few have tried. She took time out from rehearsals to talk about her career, her plans, and her life with mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton, her partner of many years.More »
Members of New York’s venerable Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center are spending April touring a program called American Voices. Thursday at Herbst Theatre, the centerpiece of the program, which spans the 18th to 21st centuries, was a new song cycle by Alan Louis Smith, Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman.More »
On Sunday, at Hertz Hall, the Takács Quartet played the second of their two Berkeley concerts this season. As with the first concert, an eminent guest joined the quartet. This time, we were lucky enough to hear Peter Wyrick, associate principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony.More about Cal Performances »
Classical music has had a few notable sibling acts in its history. Wolfgang and Nannerl Mozart toured as duo pianists; violinist Yehudi and pianist Hephzibah Menuhin performed recitals together. The early death of composer Lili Boulanger profoundly influenced the life of her older sister, the great pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, who taught a staggering number of important 20th-century composers.More about Alexander String Quartet »
Piano recitals don't often come with a title, beyond the ubiquitous "Famous Pianist Plays Chopin and Brahms." Sarah Cahill took the name of her recital, and her commissioning project, from the lecture Martin Luther King Jr. gave on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize: "We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war."More about Cal Performances »
The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra is in the second year of its search for a music director to succeed Kent Nagano, who has led the orchestra since 1978. Last Thursday, in Zellerbach Hall, the orchestra welcomed the fourth of six candidates, William Eddins, music director of the Edmonton Symphony, who conducted a lively, offbeat program with tremendous verve and obvious affection for the music. Besides imaginative programming, his special strengths include a marvelous feel for both rubato and orchestral color.More »
San Francisco Opera launched its 2008-2009 season on Friday with a comparative rarity, Verdi's great opera of reunion and reconciliation, Simon Boccanegra, using the revised version of 1881. This revival, led by outgoing Music Director Donald Runnicles, is blessed with a much better cast than that of the 2001 production.More »
War, violence, revenge, and parent-child relationships are evergreen subjects found at the heart of important operas from the earliest days of the form. Adriana Mater, the luminous, intimate, disturbing opera from composer Kaija Saariaho and librettist Amin Maalouf, treats these subjects with greater subtlety, complexity, and maturity than almost any other opera.
Adriana, which received its American premiere Saturday at Santa Fe Opera, is set in a nameless country soon to be at war.
The last quarter-century has seen musical talent bursting out of Finland, a country of only 5.3 million that, owing to ample public funding of music education, has produced a steady stream of great conductors, performers, and composers. Among the prominent composers are Aulis Sallinen, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen (who also conducts), and Magnus Lindberg. This week, conductor Sakari Oramo — another Finn — brought to the San Francisco Symphony a program that included Lindberg's 2007 tone poem Seht die Sonne (Behold the sun).More »