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Music News

April 9, 2010

Stay up to date with weekly classical music news from the Bay Area, across the US & around the World.

Even Poor Tom Can Afford This 'Rake'

Advantages of the San Francisco Conservatory's production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress include expert musical and stage direction by Bruno Ferrandis and Richard Harrell, respectively, the participation of young artists, some of them with star quality, and — let's be frank — prices you won't find at the opera often enough.

Tickets for the staged performances, April 8-11 at Cowell Theater, are priced from $15 to $20. There are two casts, the first listed below to be heard April 9 evening and the April 11 matinee, the second at the 7:30 p.m. performances on April 8 and 10:

    Anne Truelove: Angela Jarosz / Sonja Krenek
    Baba the Turk: Melissa Hight / Kate Allen
    Mother Goose: Molly Mahoney / Evgenia Chaverdova
    Tom Rakewell: David Heilman / Eleazar Rodriguez
    Nick Shadow: Cole Grisson / Robert Stafford (Alum artist)
    Truelove: Nathan Condrat / James McGoff
    Sellem: Sergio Gonzalez / Michael Desnoyers
    Jailer: Daniel Epstein / Rolfe Dauz


Quasthoff's Mahler

A concert in Dresden's Semperoper on the 150th anniversary of Mahler's birth features Thomas Quasthoff in Kindertotenlieder, and the entire program is available free by streaming video.

Conducted by Zubin Mehta, the concert includes Webern's Six Pieces and Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra.

Altmeyer Master Class

Jeannine Altmeyer, American soprano with an extensive Wagnerian career (Stuttgart, Bayreuth, La Scala), will give a master class on April 10 at the Berkeley Piano Club, 2724 Haste Street, beginning at 7 p.m.

The event is part of Open Opera's Master Class Series. A $15 donation is suggested.

See Altmeyer performances on YouTube: as Sieglinde, in another Die Walküre excerpt, and as Gutrune in Götterdämmerung.

iPad and the Arts

How up to date and hip is this column? Behold: the iPad report.

Along with the curiously intensive hype for Apple's iPad come announcements of musical and arts applications for the new Swiss Army knife computer (which, as Stephen Colbert has observed, "doesn't make phone calls, just like the iPhone"). Oh, and there are those connectivity issues, but never mind.

I've been especially intrigued by the Smule announcement of the "Lang Lang-inspired" Magic Piano, for a promotional price of $2.99, the offer "expiring on Mozart's birthday." (Not specified in the ad, that would be Jan. 27, a generous period for discount.)

So what is this new application from a company that has created Ocarina and Leaf Trombone, among others? Not having used an Apple machine since the days of Lisa, I am not at all sure. The description says:

Impress your friends with how quickly you've mastered Flight of the Bumblebee and Für Elise, or just amuse yourself playing Heart and Soul. You get to determine what your keyboard looks like — if a standard piano has too many keys, you can reduce the number to what works for you. And why does the keyboard have to be a straight line, when a circle is much more fun?

Play timeless pieces on spiral and circular keyboards, or follow beams of light — mastery requires only imagination. Play alone or select "duet mode" and Magic Piano will create warp holes, and connect you with Pianists.

You can play back and forth for a bit, and then the roulette wheel will spin again and you'll meet another new person. If you want to stay connected to a single individual, just say so, and you can play back and forth to your heart's content.

I hope an affluent reader with an iPad will report on Magic Piano and its properties. Meanwhile, take a look.

Among other iPad goodies:

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced on the day of the iPad release that its interactive Rooftop Garden iPhone App — a multimedia guide originally launched in January on the occasion of the museum's 75th anniversary — will now be available in an enhanced version on the iPad. The application is available for free download by searching "SFMoMA Rooftop" in the iTunes App Store.

For art by yourself, there is Brushes, a multitouch painting application. Soon enough — if not already — there will be an iPad iCompose program.

Bridge Chamber Virtuosi Debut

San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music is introducing the city's newest chamber ensemble, the Bridge Chamber Virtuosi. The ensemble — performing for the first time in a fund-raising event at 5:30 p.m., April 11 at the home of Jane Roos and Jean-Louis Le Roux — is already well-known by its individual members.

They are violinist Wei He, Professor of Violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, violist Yun Jie Liu, and cellist Amos Yang of the San Francisco Symphony.

Tickets are $125; for information and reservation, call 415-710-0551 or see the online form.

The April 11 program includes Schubert's String Trio in B-flat Major, Dohnányi's String Trio, and a new piece for solo cello by Bright Sheng, Seven Tunes Heard in China.

The ensemble will represent San Francisco at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, participating in a multimedia project by Joan Huang.


Tonight's the Night for Earplay-SFP Promotion

"This column," as I sometimes refer to my editorial self, often wonders why arts organizations don't work together. We hear about "regional opera," "joint productions," and the like, but for every actual collaboration, there are a hundred missed opportunities.

Cooperation doesn't need to be on the order of building sets and engaging elephants for Aida. It can be something as simple and important as our text for this evening:

Earplay patrons are offered special prices from San Francisco Performances for tonight's Herbst Theatre concert by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist (and Little Mermaid composer) Lera Auerbach. The program is Shostakovich's 24 Preludes for Piano, Op. 34, in Auerbach's arrangement for cello and piano, and Auerbach's 24 Preludes for Violincello and Piano, Op. 47.

Tickets are $32-$42, but Earplay patrons get a 20 percent discount by clicking on a link (which returns the message "bad URL," oops!) or calling (415) 392-2545, and using code AWEP. Then, to make an honest person out of you, go to Earplay and join.

Collaboration, the early days.

Early Music Mining

Chalice Consort presents the first annual Early Music Mining Conference, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on April 10 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

The conference includes presentations and performances of newly edited and previously unpublished works of Renaissance choral music in what British choral conductor Jeremy Summerly calls "a landmark event for the global early music community."

Among the participants are early music specialists Davitt Moroney (UC Berkeley), Jeremy Summerly (Royal Academy of Music, London), David Trendell (King's College, London), and Geoffrey Webber (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge).

The winners of the Early Music Scholars' Competition, whose editions will be featured at the Early Music Mining Conference, are Michael Anderson (Eastman School of Music, New York), Sean Doherty (Trinity College, Dublin), Daniel Donnelly (McGill University, Montreal), and Peter Poulos (University of Cincinnati, Ohio).

Online preregistration is available; tickets run from $40 to $60.

Dancing to Pärt and Rodgers

Diablo Ballet presents the world premiere of company dancer Tina Kay Bohnstedt's Just Another Day, to music by Arvo Pärt, and the West Coast premiere of San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story, to the Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Isn't It Romantic.

Performances in this "Inside the Dancer's Studio" presentation will be given May 7 and 8, in the Shadelands Arts Center Auditorium in Walnut Creek. The program also includes selections from the company repertoire: Swing by Lynn Taylor-Corbett and Incitations by Kelly Teo.

Performers include Bohnstedt, David Fonnegra, Erika Johnson, Jenna McClintock, Jekyns Pelaez, Edward Stegge, and Mayo Sugano.

As part of the Dancer Studio setting, there will be a Q&A session with the dancers after each performance, and a reception after the program. Tickets are $17-$34, available online or (925) 943-1775.

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