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Kids Around the Bay

November 15, 2012

Community Music Center's Mexican Treat

November 15, 2012

La PosarelaCommunity Music Center (CMC) presents once more, La Posarela, the very popular Mexican Christmas musical about Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. A sly devil (played by Carlos Barón) tries to block the couple from finding posadas (shelters) and also to divert the three shepherds in search of the Savior. Angels appear and a light-hearted struggle between good and evil unfolds.

The show blends the Mexican traditions of posadas and pastorelas and features original Latin music and Christmas carols in Spanish and English. The cast includes some 70 performers of all ages, among them, children from the Community Music Center’s Mission District Young Musicians Program.

This play also features new music arrangements by CMC faculty members Chus Alonso, Miguel Govea, and Tregar Otton. Other performers include members of the Latin Music Vocal Workshop, Coro del Pueblo, CMC Children’s Chorus and Senior Choruses.

We spoke briefly to one member of the children’s choruses, a 10-year-old boy named Jackson. He’s in the fifth grade and has been singing in the young musician’s program for three years.

“I just love performing,” he said, but with a deeper, richer voice than you would imagine. “I’ve always loved it. I’m really a stage kid. When I was four I had this stuffed monkey, and one day it was just scorching hot and I started singing about my monkey. My mother invited some relatives to come over and hear it. And from that moment I knew I loved performing and have loved it ever since.”

“They do this every year,” he went on. “We’re the angels. We sing these songs in Spanish. We all just love singing.”

The show is open to the public and will be followed by a Mexican fiesta, with tamales and atole (a traditional drink made from ground corn, served hot and flavored with chocolate or cinnamon) and a piñata for children.

La Posarela, Dec. 9, 2 p.m., Mission High School Auditorium, S.F., $5 General Admission Purchase tickets at Eventbrite or at CMC’s Mission District Branch.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.

The Velveteen Rabbit at 90

November 15, 2012

The Velveteen Rabbit at ODCThis is the ODC Dance at its best. The Velveteen Rabbit, adapted from Margery Williams’ 1922 children’s novel about a boy and his stuffed rabbit, is regular Christmas fare, but particularly well done here.

Recently, we caught up with the incomparably accomplished KT Nelson, co-artistic director at ODC — and one of the true renaissance figures in San Francisco these days — to ask about this production, with narration by Geoff Hoyle, score by Benjamin Britten, and songs sung by Rinde Eckert.

“The thing I really value about this it that it’s a gem of a story. It’s actually very profound, yet not delivered in a precious way. When Margery Williams is talking about love, transformation, and commitment, there’s nothing melodramatic, it’s all very down to earth. In our life today so much of what we see is overdone, over the top. And I think people see that and turn away. In this story these are truths about everyday life: having a best friend for 10 years is a cool thing; getting old can be good thing, and if you want to risk being real, you don’t care about being hurt.

As for the dancers in the program, Nelson added, “ODC dancers are my cast of talent and what I love about them is that they are wonderfully skilled and trained. They are like watching a baseball player stealing a base, brilliant, free and not self-conscious. In that sense, the aesthetic here is partly the physicality, and that’s what grounds both dancers and the story.”

The Velveteen Rabbit, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Nov. 23 to Dec. 9, Tickets start at $15.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.

Gandhi, A Biography in Dance

November 15, 2012

The Abhinaya Dance Company in <em>Gandhi</em>The Abhinaya Dance Company in San Jose was founded more than 30 years ago as a formal dance school for young Indian-American students interested in classical South Indian dance. It has become a remarkable portal through which to experience Indian culture and values, but never more so than in this most recent production of Gandhi. The company’s artistic director, Mythili Kumar, conceived the original production, done in 1995.

“I wanted to do it again for two reasons,” she told us recently. “One was because three generations of our dancers had never seen it and did not really know the story; the other reason was to encourage our students with the idea that you can tackle any topic in dance.”

Kumar, who plays the title of Gandhi in this new production, and also directs the show, added that the message of nonviolence and working against intolerance is not only meant for children but for the Indian-American community in general, which, as she put it, “sometimes propagates the same prejudices and attitudes here as they do in India. This is a reminder to the community that we must all recognize the values of Gandhi’s teachings.”

The two-hour performance is narrated by Gandhi’s niece, Manubhen, played by Kumar’s older daughter Raskika. The story focuses on key moments in Gandhi’s life but also catches nuances, perhaps better known to Indians. For example, as a young man Gandhi was not the fearless figure he became, and while living in South Africa as a teenager succumbed to many of the temptations that he would later help his followers to avoid.

The better known parts of Gandhi’s life are included, some abstractly. His encouragement to resist British rule, both political and economic. His famous Salt march to Dandi; his struggle against the caste system; his efforts to stop the fighting between Muslims and Hindus; and finally his assassination.

“We want to emphasize nonviolence and tolerance,” said Kumar, “and offer a moral lesson through dance.” And classical Indian music. She notes that the experience is best for children above the age of 8.

Gandhi, Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater, San Jose, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.; Nov. 18, 4 p.m.; tickets in advance: $22-$37, at the door: $25-40, (408) 871-595.

Event details here.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.

Bach to Inspire a Lifetime in Music

November 15, 2012

Davitt MoroneyHere's a discussion and masterclass lead by Davitt Moroney, the renowned UC Berkeley musicologist (as well as harpsichordist and organist) about whom The Washington Post wrote: “Moroney is one of the most accomplished players in the world, marrying deep scholarship with a lively musical imagination..."

We asked about Mr. Moroney what would be covered in his class; he responded in an email…. “10 Questions About J.S. Bach that will be answered at this workshop:

    1) "How much did Bach think you should practice every day?"
    2) "How much beer did Bach drink each week when he was young?"
    3) "What was Bach's method for teaching?"
    4) "Why did Bach go to prison?"
    5) "How high is a "high note" for Bach?"
    6) "What kind of keyboards did he like?"
    7) "How big were Bach's hands?"
    8) "How do we know how fast to play, since the metronome was not invented until 50 years after his death?"
    9) "What did Bach think about bassoon players?"
    10) "Is there a "correct" way of playing Bach?"

... and many others, including "Why is Bach important?"

This is for musicians of all ages. And if you don’t know much about Bach, or the Bach family, after this intriguing session you will: It's a great introduction by a great storyteller and musician.

Junior Bach Workshop, First Presbyterian Church in Oakland, Nov. 18, 2-5 p.m., email: [email protected], Price Range: $5 to $10.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.

Chamber Music Day Live + Free, Fun for All

November 15, 2012

Chamber Music Day Live + Free is one of those very special events in the fall that you absolutely do not want to miss. This Sunday there are 42 performances at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts — at the forum, or in the theater, or the screening room, or in the lounge. Every genre of music, by groups near and far.

“A festival for the eyes and ears,” says Dominique Pelletey, director of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, which sponsors the event. “The idea is just like a salad bar: You come and try things, and maybe you come to listen to a group play Beethoven but you fall in love a jazz group. It’s about discovery.”

Performances last no more than 20 to 30 minutes. And what’s interesting about this festival is how many local groups you’ll hear and you wonder why you haven’t.

“In the Bay Area,” says Pelletey, “ if you want to make it,  sometimes it seems it’s better if you live in Reno. There are so many fantastic groups right here and yet they don’t get hired. It’s a mystery. I suppose if you’re here people think you must not be good otherwise you’d be in New York.”

This is also a very family oriented festival. Among the activities: a "petting zoo" offered by students at the Crowden School in Berkeley, where older children teach younger children how to play various instruments. There will also be teenage ensembles performing. Last year the festival drew more than 3,000 people.

Pelletey also recommends this festival because it’s both meeting place and market place for presenters and musicians. “You know a lot of presenters like to come to hear the groups live, instead of just on a CD.”

And while you’re at the festival please stop by and say hello to us at San Francisco Classical Voice. We’d love to meet you.

Chamber Music Day Live + Free, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Nov. 18, from mid morning until late afternoon, free.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in ArtsJournal.com.  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is macnamband.com.