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Music News: April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014

S.F. Symphony Members Back Bach

April 22, 2014

Peter Wyrick Photo by Kristen LokenWhen Ton Koopman heads the San Francisco Symphony's two-week celebration of Bach, in one series of concerts, prominent members of the orchestra will be featured as soloists.

Associate Principal Cellist Peter Wyrick plays the solo in C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto in A Major, and Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye is up front for J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 51, with soprano Carolyn Sampson.

Wyrick has held the position since 1999, the chair now endowed by Peter and Jacqueline Hoefer. He has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony numerous times, including performances of the “Meditations” from Bernstein's Mass, Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante, and Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger Concerto.

In addition to his orchestral work, Wyrick is also an active soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Wyrick was the principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the associate principal cellist of the New York City Opera Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Wyrick has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Jeremy Denk, Julia Fischer, Edgar Meyer, and others.

Inouye holds the William G. Irwin Charity Foundation Chair. Both a classical and jazz musician, he has held principal trumpet positions with the Houston and Charleston Symphonies and has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. He made his San Francisco Symphony solo debut performing in Copland’s Quiet City in 2010. Inouye played with the Empire Brass Quintet, which toured the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Canada.

Mark InouyeHe is an active composer and has released his debut jazz album, The Trumpet & The Bull. Most recently, Inouye was featured in SFS performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, both at Davies Symphony Hall and on the orchestra’s European tour to Birmingham, London, Paris, Geneva, Dortmund, Luxembourg, Prague, and Vienna. He appears with the SFS April 24-26 in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, conducted by James Conlon, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist.

During the Bach series, organist Martin Haselböck and violinist Christian Tetzlaff appear in solo recitals.

The second week of performances with Koopman, May 8-10, focuses on works that J.S. Bach composed during his 27-year tenure as director of music in the principal churches of Leipzig, where he remained until his death in 1750. Koopman leads the orchestra in Bach’s Cantata No. 207a, Auf, schmetternde Töne der Muntern Trompeten, and the SFS Chorus joins the orchestra in the Kyrie and Gloria from the Bach Mass in B minor. The soloists in these concerts are soprano Teresa Wakim, mezzo-soprano Bogna Bartosz, tenor Tilman Lichdi, and bass Klaus Mertens.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

[email protected]'s 12th Season Highlights Dvořák

April 22, 2014

[email protected]'s 12th chamber music festival and institute, July 18 through Aug. 9, is called "Around Dvořák," Gilbert Kalish is among Music@Menlo performersand it will focus — according to festival directors David Finckel and Wu Han — "on the unfolding dynamic at the end of the Romantic era between the Viennese Classical tradition and the passionate nationalist expressions of a generation of Central European composers." Dvořák's connections are further described as:

Despite his humble self-identification as “a simple Bohemian musikant,” Antonín Dvořák in fact possessed a richly complex musical identity, nurtured by the multinational and multiethnic environment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where he grew up. With a craftsmanship rooted in the Viennese Classical tradition of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, Dvořák further developed his musical style in some of his mature works under the mentorship of Brahms. He likewise turned an eager ear to inspirations from diverse cultures ranging from Russia through his native Czech lands and the British Isles all the way to African American spirituals of the United States.

There will be eight thematically programmed concert programs, four artist-curated Carte Blanche concerts, together featuring 48 world-renowned artists. Composers included in festival programs are Bartók, Dohnányi, Reicha, Janácek, Kodály, Ligeti, Haydn, Beethoven, Hummel, Chopin, Schubert, and Brahms. Also on schedule are rarely performed works by Erwin Schulhoff, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Charles Ives, and George Crumb, among many others.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

S.F. Performances Season: Corrections and Amplifications

April 22, 2014

 There are some additions to be made to last week's San Francisco Performances season announcement:

* Rafal Blechacz made his debut here with Chamber Music San Francisco.

* Dubravka Tomsic's program is music by Haydn, Beethoven, and Chopin.

* Yuja Wang will perform Schubert's Sonata in B-flat Major, D960, and works by Chopin, Scriabin, Albeniz, and Granados.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Have Operatic Mad Scenes Spread to Board Rooms?

April 22, 2014

Pulitzer-Prize winning editor and critic Manuela HoelterhoffManuela Hoelterhoff has a fascinating article about the present and future of opera in Bloomberg News. It opens with:

Mad scenes help make opera so enjoyable. Think of Lucia di Lammermoor, her nightgown soaked in blood, singing cuckoo duets with a flute.

But it helps if the people running opera houses and music halls are generally sound of mind.

These last few weeks, it’s hard to ignore evidence that not being nuts (or clueless or greedy) is no longer a requirement for top jobs in many aspects of the classical entertainment business.

And goes on to deal with problems, crises, and death rattles at the Met, memories of the recently deceased New York City Opera, the theoretically departed San Diego Opera (see below), and then says this of salaries in music, inviting militantly parsimonious Paul Ryan to do his destructive best:

National Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington: Where was everyone when departing KC president Michael Kaiser renewed his pallid friend Christoph Eschenbach’s contract for another two years? Putting on party hats?

Eschenbach, 74, has been paid an astounding $1.93 million. In the U.S., only Chicago’s Riccardo Muti and San Francisco’s Michael Tilson Thomas make more, but they are in a different league entirely. Eschenbach is neither an international star nor a locally venerated cultural leader.

That’s quite a housewarming present for Deborah Rutter, who arrives in September now that Kaiser was nudged out the door.

Let’s see. According to the 2014-15 calendar, Eschenbach is down for 31 performances, which comes to about $62,246.02 per appearance, and yes, I realize he probably rehearses which can be strenuous. An unusual example of a public-private partnership, the Kennedy Center receives federal funding. Paul Ryan, be my guest.

Last month, Hoelterhoff proposed a 10-point reform program for the Met, including some simple creature comforts, and then going for the guts:

Hire a charismatic music director to articulate a vision for the future and excite a new generation. James Levine, here since 1971, has never become a public personality identified with New York. What is wrong with “emeritus”? The Met needs a visible, socially engaged leader to supplement general manager Peter Gelb. We need someone like Gustavo Dudamel in Los Angeles or Riccardo Muti in Chicago. It’s time for a change.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

San Diego Opera Struggles Continue

April 22, 2014

Karen Cohn, San Diego Opera board president no moreLast weekend had another series of dramatic events in and around San Diego Opera, now possibly/officially/maybe demised. The local NBC station reports:

As the battle to keep the San Diego Opera open rages on, NBC 7 has learned that the president of its board of directors has resigned, along with a dozen other directors.

President Karen Cohn tendered her resignation at a four-hour, closed Board meeting in La Jolla on Thursday, according to Director of Media Relations Edward Wilenski. Twelve others followed suit and were seen storming out of the meeting. Carol Lazier was then voted in as acting board president.

Along with the shakeup in administration, the remaining board members voted to defer the company's closing date to at least May 19. The deadline was originally set for April 29.

During the meeting, the board heard from an Opera America consultant about alternatives that could keep the opera open for the 2015 season — its 50th year. The reorganization presentation included a plan to scale back the operations and initiate significant fund-raisers.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Long Beach: a Devil of an Opera Company

April 22, 2014

Two variations on StravinskyThe inventiveness and courage of Long Beach Opera keeps impressing. The company's next double-bill, on May 4 and 10, provides two original takes on Stravinsky’s neoclassical theater piece L’Histoire du Soldat. The 1918 score was set to Ferdinand Ramuz’s version of a Russian folktale about a soldier in pursuit of a princess and a treasure, who is conned by the Devil.

In An American Soldier’s Tale, author and pacifist Kurt Vonnegut reimagines the Russian folktale into the vexing World War II true story of Private Eddie Slovik. In 1945, Slovik became the first American soldier executed for desertion since the Civil War.

Wynton Marsalis’ companion piece, A Fiddler’s Tale, reinterprets Stravinsky’s score through the lens of American jazz and spins The Soldier’s Tale into a Faustian yarn about a young, upstart musician who strikes up a deal with record producer Bubba Z. Beals and bites off more than she can chew.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

S.F. Ballet to Spoleto, Paris

April 22, 2014

Wheeldon’s Within the Golden HourSpoleto Photo by Erik TomassonSan Francisco Ballet has been invited to the Spoleto Festival in Italy this summer, to give four performances over three days in July. The company will perform works by Alexei Ratmansky, Hans van Manen, Sir Frederick Ashton, and company artistic director Helgi Tomasson.

Ratmansky's From Foreign Lands, set to music by Moritz Moszkowski, incorporates steps that hint at traditional dances from Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, and Hungary. Variations for Two Couples by Hans van Manen, resident choreographer at Dutch National Ballet, had its American premiere at S.F. Ballet’s 2014 opening night gala.

Set to the music of Johann Strauss, Voices of Spring is a pas de deux, choreographed by Ashton, introduced by the Royal Ballet in 1978. Tomasson’s 7 for Eight has been performed by S.F. Ballet several times since its debut in 2004.

The company will go from Spoleto to Paris to give 18 performances there at the Les Estés de la Danse Festival, July 10-26, in Théâtre du Châtelet.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Of Orchestral Wearables

April 22, 2014

Wearable performance technology Photo by Martin SeckYesterday, Marin Alsop headed a program at the New School, called "The Future of Orchestral Garments," with students from the New School for Design and young musicians from Mannes College.

Having presented initial designs in the fall to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the students are now expanding and developing their design proposals to address many of the particular concerns of orchestra members. There were 15 designs presented, including one for Alsop. The Mannes students played a short solo passage while wearing the demonstrated garments.

The event was followed by a memorial concert in memory of Lamar Alsop, conducted by Alsop and featuring violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

As the live stream from the event is no longer available, further research is needed about the exact nature of those orchestral wearables, and I promise to deliver it soon.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

S.F. Choral Society Marks Anniversary with the B Minor Mass

April 22, 2014

Robert Geary, soloists, and the San Francisco Choral SocietyRobert Geary's 175-voice San Francisco Choral Society is celebrating the beginning of its season in a big way, with two performances of Bach’s monumental Mass in B Minor in the Calvary Presbyterian Church, on May 3 and 4.

The soloists are soprano Shauna Fallihee, alto Clifton Massey, tenor Brian Thorsett, and bass Nikolas Nackley. The Jubilate Orchestra, performing on period instruments, will provide accompaniment. The chorus website says:

Completed in 1749, the year before his death, the Bach Mass in B Minor is a perennial favorite known for its sublime beauty. ”The Mass in B Minor is as lofty in design, scope and expression as anything written by the hand of man,” says NPR commentator Ted Libbey. ”It represents an attempt to both summarize the tradition of the mass in a single perfect specimen and leave a statement on the nature of sacred music as a bequest to the future.”

Geary adds:

It took almost a full century after Bach’s death for his music to be fully rediscovered. Even then those performing his music did so in the more Romantic style of the 19th century. Only after advances in musical scholarships did his music become performed more authentically.

The Mass in B Minor is considered one of his more magnificent works. He completed the piece, remarkably, within two years of his death. History tells us that the purpose and speed of which the piece was accomplished was that for Bach, this was a time of summation and culmination. Drawing inspiration from what was termed "specimen books," Bach delved into the possibilities inherent to his style of powerful and arresting compositions.

Junior and senior high school students can attend the concerts for free, in a program supported by the Wells Fargo and Bernard Osher Foundations. To be on the admission list, e-mail student's name and school to [email protected]

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

'Grove on the Road': Mobile Arts Festival

April 22, 2014

Participation in a Stern Grove African Drum and Dance event points the way to the mobile festivalBeginning in May, the Stern Grove Festival kicks off a new mobile pop up arts festival — "Grove on the Road." Admission-free afternoon events throughout the city are aimed at delivering arts experience into diverse San Francisco neighborhoods.

The program is to bring concert performances by local artists, interactive arts education programs, and an overall community “block party” atmosphere to urban spaces that have not traditionally been used as arts venues. In addition to the performances, Grove on the Road will offer hands-on arts programs such as "instrument petting zoos," talks with the artists, and food booths.

“Since its founding, Stern Grove Festival has been a vital part of San Francisco and has played host to many of the city’s cultural institutions,” says Steven Haines, the festival’s executive director. “With Grove on the Road, we are thrilled to expand beyond the Grove and bring the Festival experience into our neighborhoods.” It is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

The program launches on May 4 as part of “Sunday Streets,” Bayview at China Basin Park. The next two mobile pop-up arts festivals this spring will be on May 17 at Cleveland Elementary in Excelsior and June 11 at the UN Plaza farmer’s market. Then Stern Grove Festival itself oppens its 77th season of free summer concerts in the park. Grove on the Road shows will resume in the fall.

The spring schedule for Grove on the Road features performances by The Family Crest, ODC, Chelle! and Friends, Dholrhythms Dance Troupe, International Low Brass Trio, and Kristin Damrow Dance Company; as well as an instrument petting zoo with Magik*Magik Orchestra, and interactive visual programming with Trash Mash-up, a community art project using disposable materials to construct visual artworks.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Kudos to an Entertaining and Timely Press Release

April 22, 2014

Marlboro Music Artistic Director Mitsuko Uchida with student performersFrom Frank Salomon of Marlboro Music:

We hope that everyone is enjoying a festive Passover and Easter, two holidays we have always enjoyed celebrating. I used to have an Easter egg hunt in my office but gave up the practice when we found a few of those little chocolate eggs in colored foil, a few years later, in some file folders in a rather squashed state. I never had a similar problem hiding the affikomen at the Passover seder.

To celebrate the arrival of Spring and the holidays in a more musical way, we are sending you a performance of the delightful Strauss Serenade in E-flat Major for woodwinds and four horns, Op. 7.

It conjures up summer, our Vermont hills, and the Marlboro spirit of music-making. It was one of the highlights of last summer and makes one want to get up and dance.

If you don't want to wait until the middle of July to hear Marlboro LIVE, there is another piece that has the same effect as the Stauss — the Dvořák Quintet in A Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 81 which closes our final Musicians from Marlboro program of the season.

The program also offers performances from recent summers of the powerful Berg Lyric Suite and the Haydn String Quartet in B-flat, Op. 50, No. 1 that everyone felt were so special that they had to be shared with others on tour.

For more personnel, repertoire, and ticket information, see the April-May schedule.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].