Gold Coast Chamber Players
The Gold Coast Chamber Players

The Gold Coast Chamber Players plan to ride out the topsy-turvy 2021–2022 season mounted on a sturdy bridge. The group remains committed to its signature features: top-tier Bay-Area-based musicians, an eclectic, highly curated roster of special guest artists, theme-driven repertory, and unpretentious preconcert presentations offering meaningful historical facts and musical framing relevant to past and present times. But founder and violist Pamela Freund-Striplen, is fully cognizant of the coming-out-of-COVID-19 landscape, and for each of the concerts at the Don Tatzin Community Hall located within the Lafayette Library, ticket purchases include an option to view the performance virtually.

Pamela Freund-Striplin
Pamela Freund-Striplin

“It is a joyous return to the stage, but it continues to be challenging to manage all the various rules and regulations,” Freund-Striplen writes in an email. “I do feel very proud of the nine virtual concerts we did during the pandemic. I guess I should say early in the pandemic! Opening up again is so tricky.  As you know, there is absolutely no substitute for playing live for an audience!”

The return begins Sept. 18, with Spheres of Influence, a program of music by Debussy, Ravel, SF Opera Orchestra’s Shinji Eshima, and Ching-chu Hu. San Francisco Symphony members Principal Second Violin Dan Carlson, Assistant Principal Cellist Amos Yang, and bassist Charles Chandler join violinist Dian Zhang, and violists Joy Fellow and Freund-Striplen. Eshima’s Bariloge has a sensual soundscape Freund-Striplen describes as “captivating and beautiful.”

About Hu, Freund-Striplen says she originally sought out “his playful and skillful writing” for a new sextet premiered in 2013. Linking last season’s theme of love and diversity to this year’s focus on identity, she welcomes the opportunity to “bring to light some of the timely issues facing Asians.”

Gold Coast branches into the new year with Seriously Mozart in January. In a concert featuring the composer’s late chamber music, pianist Julio Elizalde makes his Gold Coast debut, appearing with Freund-Striplen, violinist Axel Strauss, and cellist Jennifer Culp.

February’s concert, Culture, Crisis, and Creativity, is presented as part of the Bay Area Music Consortium, so Gold Coast is joined by the Horszowski Trio. The ensemble will perform piano trios by Bedřich Smetana, Rebecca Clarke, and Arno Babajanian.

Jose Gozalez Granero
Jose Gozalez Granero

¡Caliente!, in mid-March, presents Spanish selections featuring San Francisco Opera’s Principal Clarinet Jose González Granero and music by Joaquin Turina, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, and original compositions for clarinet by Granero. Freund-Striplen says “his clarinet playing is incredibly emotive and expressive and he brings that same style to his compositions.” Violinists Jennifer Cho and Dian Zhang, and cellist Peter Myers join Granero, along with Freund-Striplen and pianist Julie Nishimura. 

The final concert of the season in May reprises Gold Coast’s much-admired virtual program dubbed “Dvořák’s America.” Recreated for the concert stage as “Dvořák’s America {Reimagined},” the work explores the impact of spirituals and Native American music on Dvořák during his time in America. “I’ve been developing ‘Dvorak’s America’ for years,” says Freund-Striplen. “By performing Dvořák’s chamber music of this period side by side with spirituals and Native American music, we experience these influences directly and understand the interconnectedness of cultures, both musically and historically.”

Freund-Striplen is joined by the Alexander String Quartet, soprano Michele Kennedy, and flutist R. Carlos Nakai, a multi-Grammy-nominated Native flutist who has sold more than 4.3 million albums. Among other pieces, he will perform an arrangement of his Honoring Song, written specifically for Gold Coast. “The Honoring Song can be used in many different situations,” says Freund Striplen. “R. Carlos is interested in showcasing native American composers and avoiding the romanticized version of the American Indian. He will be doing some improvisations along with our arrangement of Goin’Home and giving a lecture demonstration as our preconcert talk.”

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