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IN Music News THIS WEEK:
November 8, 2005

Teaming Up to Rescue Florestan

S.F. Symphony's New Associate Conductor

MTT's Far-Flung Music

Berkeley Symphony-Repertory Project

S.F. Conservatory Concerts

Cantabile's "Double Visions"

San Domenico: Home Team and Visitors

Shortest Possible Copyright Primer Music for Peace

Gergiev, Led Zeppelin Win Largest Music Prize

The N.Y.-L.A.-Chicago Axis

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By Janos Gereben

In the Operatic Crystal Ball

Opera plans are set years in advance, so the San Francisco Opera's 2006-'07 season should be almost exclusively the responsibility of departing general manager Pamela Rosenberg, not of her successor, David Gockley. Arrangements, however, are not set in stone: when Rosenberg took over from Lotfi Mansouri five years ago, she is reported to have spent over a half million dollars to buy out contracts — including from some big names, who aired their resentment back then. Gockley, being a more frugal manager, is not likely to repeat that. His imprint on the next season must come in concert with Rosenberg.

What may be in store at the War Memorial:

  • Bizet, Carmen, in the Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production
  • Verdi, Rigoletto, another old SFO production
  • Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, with Christine Brewer; Donald Runnicles conducting; Francesca Zambello, director
  • Puccini, Manon Lescaut
  • Verdi, A Masked Ball, production from Chicago, with costume design by Andrea Schmidt-Futterer (of the current Forza, and last year's Dutchman, so black will dominate)
  • Rossini, The Barber of Seville
  • Strauss, Die Fledermaus, Mansouri, director
The winter portion of the current season concludes at the end of this month, but next summer opera will return:
  • Madama Butterfly, May-June, with Patricia Racette, Zheng Cao, Franco Farina, and Philip Joll; Runnicles conducting; Ron Daniels, director
  • Maid of Orleans (Tchaikovsky), June-July, with Dolora Zajick, Karen Slack, Misha Didyk, Philip Cutlip, Rod Gilfry, and Sean Panikkar; Runnicles conducting; Christopher Alexander, director
  • The Marriage of Figaro, June-July, with Ruth Ann Swenson / Twyla Robinson (June 15, 22, 30), Camilla Tilling / Cora Burggraaf, Claudia Mahnke, Peter Mattei / Tommi Hakala, John Relyea / Christopher Feigum; Roy Goodman conducting; John Copley, director

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Teaming Up to Rescue Florestan

In the San Francisco Opera production of Beethoven's Fidelio, opening on November 9, there is a last-minute change as Perry Brown, originally scheduled to sing Don Fernando, withdrew because he "has been suffering chronic allergies since being in San Francisco," according to the Opera. In the first five performances, the role will be sung by Eric Owens (Gen. Groves in Doctor Atomic) and in the last two by Philip Skinner, now appearing as Marchese di Calatrava, the over-protective father, who sort of falls on a bullet at the very beginning of La Forza del Destino.

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S.F. Symphony's New Associate Conductor

James Gaffigan, 26, has been named the San Francisco Symphony's new associate conductor, the first such appointment after a succession of assistant conductors. Gaffigan, who will take his position here next September, has been assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2003.

SF Symphony Associate Conductor
James Gaffigan

Gaffigan, born in New York City, has degrees from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. He made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in June conducting La Bohème.

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MTT's Far-Flung Music

S.F. Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas — identified in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report as a "Los Angeles composer" — is the focus of interest in Manila's musical life with his From the Diary of Anne Frank. Scheduled for performance by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra on November 11, the work will be conducted by PPO Music Director Eugene Castillo. The narrator (originally performed by the late Audrey Hepburn) will be TV host Solita Monsod. The embassies of Holland and Israel are cosponsoring the event. The Inquirer story concludes with "Oh, yes, the concert will also feature Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and Margaret Brouwer's Remembrance."

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Berkeley Symphony-Repertory Project

Berkeley Rep has engaged Berkeley Symphony players, conducted by Valerie Gebert, to collaborate in the upcoming opera double-bill presentation of Hans Krása's Brundibar and Bohuslav Martinu's Comedy on the Bridge. Gebert has conducted touring productions of musicals in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The Berkeley run begins with previews on November 11, opens on November 16, and closes Dec. 28. This is a co-production between Berkeley Rep and Yale Repertory Theatre, transfering to Yale Rep in New Haven and then to New York's New Victory Theater next year.

From the Maurice Sendak production of Brundibar, due at Berkeley Rep

Krása's opera was written and originally performed during the Holocaust by children imprisoned at Terez“n, the notorious Nazi "model ghetto." Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone directs an adaptation of the work by Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak.

Krása's teacher in the Prague Conservatory was Alexander Zemlinsky, with whom Krása later moved to the newly established Deutsche Akademie für Musik. Krása was imprisoned in the Teresienstadt ghetto by the Nazis in 1942. While in the concentration camp, he wrote a String Trio (Tanz), a Passacaglia and Fugue, and Three Songs for Soprano, Clarinet, Viola and Cello; he was killed in 1944.

The Berkeley production will feature actors and singers from Broadway musicals, including Euan Morton as the Sentry and Brundibar, Devynn Pedell as Aninku, Angelina Réaux as Eva and the Cat, Anjali Bhimani as Popelka and the Sparrow, Henry DiGiovanni as Captain Ladinksy and the Ice-Cream Seller, Matt Farnsworth as Sykos and the Milkman, Aaron Simon Gross as Pepicek. Berkeley's own Geoff Hoyle will be seen as the Sentry, the Baker, and the Dog. See www.berkeleyrep.org.

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S.F. Conservatory Concerts

Just a few examples of the (mostly) free and always interesting public music events in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Hellman Hall at Ortega Street and 19th Avenue:

November 8, 7:30, Martha Katz's Viola Chamber Music Master Class (Katz also participates in chamber music recital at 8 p.m., November 10, presenting works of Brahms and Schumann); November 11, 8 p.m., BluePrint New Music Project: "New Viennese Perspectives," Nicole Paiement, director; November 13, 8 p.m., new vocal works by Alden Jenks, Mikako Endo and Allen Shearer, with Mack McCray and Timothy Bach, piano; November 15, 8 p.m., Conservatory Baroque Ensemble, Anthony Martin and Corey Jamason, directors.

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Cantabile's "Double Visions"

Cantabile Chorale's November 18-20 concerts will consist of works written for double chorus, by Bach, Brahms, Schumann, as well as the American William Hawley and Canada's Healey Willan. The major work on the program is Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir. Conducted by Sanford Dole, the 70-member chorus will give the performances in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley. For information, see www.cantabile.org.

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San Domenico: Home Team and Visitors

The pioneering Virtuoso Program in San Anselmo's San Domenico School, now in its 29th season since Faith France founded it, is featuring concerts by its own individual students and eight ensembles as well as by visiting artists. Among the latter, the faculty quartet from the Herberger School of Music at Arizona State University presents four solo masterclasses in violin, viola, cello and piano; the Cavani String Quartet returns in January, and the Miró Quartet visits in April.

Conducted by program director George Thomson, the school's Orchestra da Camera will perform in Herbst Theater in Strings Magazine's 20th anniversary gala concert on May 2. Free San Domenico concerts in the school's new concert hall include a solo recital on November 9 and a chamber-music recital by all eight student ensembles on Dec. 5. A benefit concert on February 12 will feature Rieko and Mayumi Tsuchida, piano; Sarah Lee, violin; and Christina Simpson, viola, as soloists. See www.sandomenico.org.

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Music for Peace

The Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra of Japan is touring Korea to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the peace accord between South Korea and Japan. Led by Kazuyoshi Akiyama, the orchestra performs in Taegu, Pusan, and Seoul. What do you play on a "peace-concert tour"? The programs include Yun I-sang's Fanfare and Memorial for Orchestra, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, and opera excerpts from Rusalka, Madama Butterfly, and Kim Dong-jin's Azalea Flower. Ann Akiko Meyers is the soloist in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

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Gergiev, Led Zeppelin Win Largest Music Prize

Valery Gergiev and the rock band Led Zeppelin are winners of the 2006 Polar Music Prize, from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. The one million Swedish kroner prize is the biggest music award in the world. Founded in 1989, by the late Stig Anderson, of ABBA, and named after his record label, Polar Records, the prize recognizes "a lifetime of achievement in music." Gergiev, 52, is acclaimed for his "unique, electrifying musical skills." Previous winners include Dizzy Gillespie, Pierre Boulez, Isaac Stern, Bruce Springsteen, and Sofia Gubaidulina. The 2005 winners were baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Brazil's Gilberto Gil.

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The N.Y.-L.A.-Chicago Axis

Chad Smith, currently artistic administrator of the New York Philharmonic, has been named vice president of artistic planning at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he will succeed Edward Yim in January. Before joining the N.Y. Philharmonic in April, Smith served as artistic administrator at the L.A. Philharmonic.

Matias Tarnopolsky will succeed Smith as artistic administrator of the N.Y. Philharmonic. Tarnopolsky has been senior director of artistic planning at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2004, and was director of programming at the CSO for the previous five years. He had earlier worked as a producer for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers.

(Janos Gereben, a regular contributor to www.sfcv.org, is arts editor of the Post Newspaper Group. His e-mail address is janosg@gmail.com.)

©2005 Janos Gereben, all rights reserved