The Santa Rosa Symphony has more than earned its role as the future orchestra-in-residence at the Green Music Center, now edging toward completion at Sonoma State University (see the feature article). It has made remarkable progress during the past two decades, even under the handicap of an acoustically mediocre home. Its large and loyal audience has remained true and, further, has produced major patrons, support, and leadership for the Green Center.
Last Thursday, the Berkeley Symphony welcomed Joana Carneiro, the last of six candidates to appear at Zellerbach Hall and make a case for their being appointed as music director. Carneiro's selection of pieces was probably the least eclectic of all the candidates' programs, though she chose hers strategically. A Bay Area premiere of a new composition, a work by a hometown hero, and a warhorse of the repertoire not only provided a diverse offering of music but also allowed Carneiro, the assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to play to her strengths.
Born a hundred years ago, just a single day apart, Olivier Messiaen and Elliott Carter, otherwise such strange musical bedfellows, had their December birthdays jointly celebrated Monday in San Francisco's Green Room, in a concert by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Messiaen died in 1992 at age 84, but Carter lives on, seems in steady good health, and with his abilities intact continues to write music.
"Music didn't always use to be so [bleepin'] pretentious," whispered one of the "concert" goers as he stood on the sidewalk, rolling a cigarette while listening to the Brahms G-minor Piano Quartet. As the performers started to play the Alla Zingara "Gypsy" movement, listeners whistled, whooped, and yelled "Yeah! All right!" The smiling performers, visibly energized, ratcheted up the tempo.
What would Bay Area choral groups do without Christmas? Even if our amateur choruses can’t compete with the professionals, the warmth and good cheer they generate among audience members, plus the delicious postconcert receptions, go a long way toward justifying the price of admission.
A good example is Voices of Musica Sacra, a chamber chorus of some 40 volunteer members. Founded in 1993 by Kathleen Fleming, VMS primarily performs sacred choral music in its twice-annual concerts.
Many times people have asked me, shaking their heads: “How can anyone like that [dissonant, earsplitting, academic, boring, pointless, random — pick your adjective] modern music?” But the fact is, incredible as it may seem to some traditional classical music fans, many people do, as evidenced by the crowd filling the risers to near capacity in the Yerba Center for the Arts Forum Monday evening.