Every week, our writers take an in‐depth look at an artist, program or topic of interest to us. Spend some time with this week's classical music feature, or scroll through the extensive SFCV archive for insights in many music topics.
We tend to think of composers in groups, whether by era, country, school, or style. Meredith Monk, however, has always stood apart from the crowd. Now nearly half a century into her career, this extraordinarily wide-ranging artist continues to occupy a singular space in contemporary music.
Since the mid-1960s, Monk's work as a composer, vocalist, choreographer, director, and performance artist has yielded dozens of new works, from the groundbreaking opera Atlas (1991) to intimate theater pieces for her own Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble.
The Bay Area must be one of the few places where fledgling classical music presenters can find support in an already teeming marketplace. Now you can add another newcomer to the list of those you’ve heard of: Live at Mission Blue, a relatively young chamber music series, which opens its fifth season this Saturday evening. The concerts take place in the Mission Blue Center, perched high in the city of Brisbane's San Bruno Hills, a 15-minute drive from downtown San Francisco.
A new chamber music series. That phrase evokes all kinds of associations.
On Saturday, October 4, at Herbst Theatre, Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will mark the beginning of a "Remembrance Concert Tour". She will be joined by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Anne Manson. The tour, sponsored by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, will visit six cities in the U.S. and Canada, concluding with a concert at Carnegie Hall on October 20.More "A Musical Heritage Rediscovered and Celebrated" »
Is it like this for you? You go to the market. A Whitney Houston clone is on the Muzak — again. You want to scream. Do you feel the same way when you go to the symphony and discover Brahms' Second, Dvořák's "New World," or Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto on the program? If so, there's hope for you — if you move to north Phoenix. But more about that later.
There's no question about it: The "greats" rule the roost in classical music, and they're played over and over again.
If you're a dead white male composer, you probably envy Leonard Bernstein. It used to be that full-career retrospectives were reserved for major anniversaries, but New York City's cultural institutions stage one every 10 years in Bernstein's honor. In 1998, the Lincoln Center Festival produced one. This fall, in honor of the 90th anniversary of the musician's birth, and the 50th of his appointment as music director of the New York Philharmonic, the orchestra and Carnegie Hall are collaborating on another traversal of Bernstein's compositional achievement.More "The Man Who Built Bridges" »
Have you seen Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg yet? If you read The San Francisco Chronicle, you probably have. She smiles out at you from full-page ads in the last several Sunday "Pink Sections," not to mention smaller, but still eye-catching ads in the occasional weekday edition (sometimes even in the first — that is, the national news — section, rather than the arts pages).More "New Century, New Vibe" »
At first glance, The Bonesetter's Daughter seems unlikely source material for an opera. Amy Tan's 2001 novel spans two continents and three generations, encompassing contemporary American life, ancient Chinese myth, ghost stories, family secrets, and the search for personal identity. How does a composer translate such a story from the page to the stage?
Cooler heads might have said it couldn't be done. Yet for composer Stewart Wallace, inspiration trumped practical concerns. Reading Tan's novel, he says, left him no choice.
The wistful lyrics from West Side Story must have had a special meaning for David Gockley as he contemplated the lack of appropriate performance venues in the city. It was a couple of years ago, and Gockley had just arrived as the new general director of San Francisco Opera. Among the first questions asked of him was whether he'd be interested in reviving the company's old Spring Opera Theater.More "'There's a Place for Us, Somewhere'" »
On the day my lifelong infatuation with classical radio died, I hardly realized it would be revived by the Internet just a year later and become better than ever — so exciting that my CDs are quickly becoming superfluous, forgotten on their dusty shelves. Studio recordings simply can't compare to the magnetism of the great live performances on Internet radio. (See a list of recommended stations, below.) When I go to a recordings store these days I find myself going through the motions.More "My Love Affair With Internet Radio" »
My sister forwarded me a menu last week from an early 1950s Woolworth’s diner counter, which she intended to give me price shock. It sort of did: A ham salad sandwich went for 30 cents, a slice of apple pie or layer cake was 15 cents, and a banana split cost a whole 25 cents.
Not exactly gourmet dining, mind you, but those prices set off waves of nostalgia in me, most seriously for the live music performances available on radio during the 1940s and 50's, and later on television. Those were my teen and early college years.