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Music News: Dec. 4, 2012

December 4, 2012

Music Education: Something Vital and Personal

December 4, 2012

Teacher and student at the conference: Abreu and Dudamel Photos by Peg SkorpinskiAt "Reaching for the Stars," last week's international conference on music education at UC Berkeley, headliners included El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu, Gustavo Dudamel, and the hosting Cal Performances Director Matías Tarnopolsky.

"I dropped in to hear them talk and, as expected, the words were inspiring. But, as happens often with music, you can go to hear one thing and be surprised by another. And so it was with this," writes Karen Ames:

Just prior to Dudamel and Abreu, the audience got to meet Stanford Thompson. The Curtis graduate, a talented musician and trumpet player, Stanford shared a story of finding himself highly trained with a dream to play in the Philadelphia Orchestra. After a stint in Kenya to found a small program based on El Sistema, he was accepted as a fellow at the New England Conservatory’s El Sistema fellowship.

And then he took these skills back to Philly and founded "Play on Philly," an after school program based on the principles of El Sistema. Yes, the story is amazing, but the man himself was even more amazing. Hearing him talk with humility and humor about his path and the challenges brought tears to my eyes.

I’m sure there was an easier — and certainly more lucrative — path for this incredible young musician, but I’m not sure any of those paths would have touched so many people or changed as many young lives. The kids are learning to play and experiencing great guests like Simon Rattle and Bobby McFerrin, but Stanford is also gathering data that proves his kids are also getting better grades and becoming better overall citizens. Stanford chuckled when he shared that each year the program sends the mayor of Philadelphia a bill for all the kids they've kept out of juvenile hall.

Simon Bolivar String Quartet: Violinist Alejandro Carreño, violinist Boris Suárez, cellist Aimon Mata and violist Ismel CamposThere were many enthusiastic reports about other presentations as well, and such gems from Abreu as "A child with an instrument is no longer a poor child. A child with an instrument and teacher is no longer an excluded child."

And, as the SFCV interview with Tarnopolsky last week quoted him on what is being done ... and what is not:

[The education gap] has long been filled, at least partly, by arts organizations like ours or the San Francisco Symphony, which has its [own] education program, by sending performing artists out to the schools or [connecting] kids with performing artists. Our education program [at Cal Performances] is part of our DNA.

We do in excess of 60 education and community programs every year, mostly free. Ten of those are main stage performances at Zellerbach Hall during the school days. So that’s 2,000 kids each time. And in advance of every one of those performances our teaching artists go into the schools and work with both kids and teachers to prepare them for the performances. And then, afterwards, often the artists will interact with the children.

But that’s still not the same as music being part of the curriculum. As a very dear composer friend of mine said to me, “Why is it that the swim team meets at 7 a.m. every morning and not the orchestra or the band?” That’s what we must get to.

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

Dudamel Compensation Not on Par With His Fame

December 4, 2012

Mike Boehm, of The Los Angeles Times, reports that Gustavo Dudamel — the Philharmonic's music director, Musician of the Year for 2013 according to Musical America, and visitor to Berkeley last week — received just under $1 million in salary and benefits for 2010, his first full year on the job.

According to Boehm, at least 12 conductors and executives with nonprofit arts organizations in the U.S. earned more.

Among conductors in 2010, James Levine was on top, with $2.06 million from the Met, plus $1.21m from Boston Symphony; followed by Michael Tilson Thomas, $2.41m; then Alan Gilbert ($1.56m); and Charles Dutoit ($1.47m).

In Dudamel's neighborhood, James Conlon received $993,696 from the Los Angeles Opera, which paid Plácido Domingo $1.4m; Dudamel's predecessor at the Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen received his highest compensation in 2005, close to $1.6m.

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

NEA Grants to California Orchestras

December 4, 2012

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman (who is stepping down at the end of the calendar year) has announced that the Association of California Symphony Orchestras is recommended for a $30,000 grant to support professional and leadership development and technical assistance programs for California orchestras.

Among ACSO members receiving NEA grants:

Oakland East Bay Symphony: $20,000
Oakland Youth Orchestra: $15,000
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra: $12,500
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: $20,000
San Francisco Symphony: $75,000
San Francisco Youth Symphony: $65,000

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

Berkeley's Under Construction A-building

December 4, 2012

Andrew Vi-Luan Ly Berkeley Symphony's Under Construction Composers Program, enabling Bay Area emerging composers to work with a professional orchestra, has three participants this season: Andrew Vi-Luan Ly, Michael Nicholas, and Davide Verotta.

Each will write a symphonic work to be read and performed by Berkeley Symphony at the Under Construction New Music Concerts, Dec. 9 and March 24, 2013, in Berkeley's Crowden Music Center.

Music Director Joana Carneiro and Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Steven Stucky curate the concerts.

Ly is a current Ph.D. student in Music Composition at UC Berkeley. He holds a B.A. in Music from Yale University, where he was awarded the Southeast Asia Studies Summer Fellowship and Richter Summer Fellowship for the study of traditional music in Vietnam. He also holds an M.M. in Music Composition from the University of Southern California.

Michael Nicholas

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2007 Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State and the 2007 Chinese Cultural Scholarship awarded by the Chinese government.

Nicholas is also a current Ph.D. student in Music Composition at UC Berkeley. Originally from Los Angeles, Michael earned a B.A. in composition from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic, and an M.A. in composition from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.

He also studied at the Rimsky Korsakov St. Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia where he took a preparatory course from the department of composition. In 2005, he won First Prize in Composition at the 15th Internationale Sommerakademie PragWienBudapest in Reichenau, Austria, for his work titled Zephyr.

Davide VerottaVerotta attended the Milano Conservatory in Italy before moving to San Francisco to pursue his studies. After changing his academic focus to mathematics, he earned a Ph.D. in Biostatistics at UC Berkeley, before returning to his musical studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He earned his M.A. in composition from San Francisco State University.

His piano teachers include Isabella Zielonka, Robert Helps, and Julian White; composition teachers include Carlos-Sanchez Gutierrez, Richard Festinger, Ronald Calabiano, Josh Levine, Kurt Rohde, and Laurie San Martin. He currently studies with Allan Crossman in Oakland.

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

Fisher New S.F. Symphony President

December 4, 2012

John D. Goldman and Sakurako Fisher On Monday, the San Francisco Symphony's 100th annual meeting elected Sakurako Fisher the organization's president. She succeeds John D. Goldman, who has served since 2001, and will continue to serve on the Board of Governors.

"During John’s 11 years with the orchestra," Fisher said, "SFS experienced some of its finest moments. These are exciting times, and in Michael Tilson Thomas and our incredible musicians we have the ideal team to affirm and reaffirm all that music can be."

Fisher has been a member of the Board of Governors since 1992, and was most recently its vice president and chair of the Development Steering Committee. She also serves as the chair of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution, and is on the U.S. advisory boards for the Union Centrale des Arts et Decoratifs and the Centre Pompidou.

A Stanford graduate in International Relations, she has worked for Cargill and Citibank. Fisher has studied koto and flute growing up, and remains an active, passionate music lover.

Newly elected members of the Symphony’s Board of Governors are: Aida Alvarez, former director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and Chair of the Latino Community Foundation; Richard Carranza, Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District; Iris Chan, former VP of Wells Fargo and partner in The Angels’ Forum; Jim Henry, Market Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers and board member of Larkin Street Youth Services; Fred Seegal, Vice Chairman Peter J Solomon Company and former President of American Ballet Theatre; and Isabel Valdés, President of Isabel Valdés Consulting and member of the Chile-California Council.

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

Composers Workshop at Mills College

December 4, 2012

Fred Frith's work has four conductors leading improvisations Photo by Margaret CaywardMargaret Cayward, with a recent doctorate degree in music from UC Davis, specializing in ethnomusicology, reports from last week's biannual concert of the Composers and Improvisers Workshop at Mills College:

Fred Frith of Mills and Myra Melford of UC Berkeley led the workshop, exploring the art of improvisation. Frith de-emphasized solos, told students to "do less" and to "think about what they are doing."

Seven graduate composers and 12 other musicians have collaborated in creating intricate sound tapestries, introducing individual pops of sound and modestly sustained notes in an amazing variety of timbres. Some pieces subtly incorporated audio-recordings, such as Christopher Luna’s sample of the vibration of a metal stop sign in his "Free way and stop sign."

Surprisingly coherent larger-scale patterns often emerged, including a lively triple-time march that concluded Ben Irwin’s arrangement of Stephen Dembski’s Sonotropism. Deft textural and formal craftsmanship was especially evident in Kimberly Sutton’s Timbre Studies: No. 5a.

Evelyn Davis’s Singing in a Crowd was entirely instrumental. Composer Ravi Kittappa spoke about the consistency in style between his From Nothing and his through-composed compositions. Jacob Peck intended in his Le Ode of Forgotten Bartholomew to let the "shared unconscious mind of the musicians" organize the performance, yet he was pleased that the musicians asserted their individuality. Mateo Lugo’s Distances-Togetherness (in Six Phases) also invoked the power of music to unify and transform.

Frith prepares his students to “give something up” and to accept “that the notes are enough.” His Color-coded exemplified “conducted improvisation” as four conductors crossed paths onstage, stressing music as motion while they cued specific groups of performers to respond to each other, shaping lovely sonic contrasts. The musicality embodied in this concert crossed conventional boundaries between the roles of composer and performer, individual and collective.

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

Pacific Musical Society Gala

December 4, 2012

Pacific Musical Society's annual gala on Sunday honored composer Jake Heggie. Some 130 attendees in the St. Francis Westin contributed to the 102-year-old organization's mission of assisting young musicians. The evening featured performances by Frederica von Stade and Nicolle Foland, with Heggie at the piano. Flicka concluded her set with a heartfelt parody of Gershwin's "The Man I Love," sung to Heggie.

Also performing were three of the society's annual competition winners: pianist Agata Sorotokin, 15, gave the U.S. premiere of Russian composer Ivan Sokolov's Four Preludes; soprano Julia Metzler, 21, sang four songs by Berg and Strauss, with James Meredith, pianist; and cellist Elena Ariza, 15, concluded with Schumann's Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70.

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

Award for Opera Parallèle

December 4, 2012

Jason Detwiler and Susannah Biller in (what was then) Ensemble Parallèle’s production of <em>The Great Gatsby</em> Opera Parallèle, the newly renamed Ensemble Parallèle, won first prize in the professional division of the Opera Production Competition by the National Opera Association for its 2012 production of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. The award will be presented at the association's national convention on Jan. 5, in Portland, OR.

Opera Parallèle’s Artistic Director Nicole Paiement collaborated with stage director and designer Brian Staufenbiel to create their most ambitious project to date, joining with the Aspen Music Festival to commission Jacques Desjardins’ new chamber orchestration of Gatsby.

Opera Parallèle's next production is the Bay Area premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar on Feb. 15-17, in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

On April 26, 27, and 28, the company presents at ZSpace the San Francisco premiere of Garth Sunderland’s re-orchestration of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in a double bill with Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge. The season closes June 7 at San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a public workshop reading of the company’s first commission, Dante De Silva’s Gesualdo, Prince of Madness.

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].