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Janos Gereben

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

Articles by this Author

Artist Review
March 5, 2009

Recession be damned: for the second week, new, complex, "heavy" music and Ravel have filled the 2,743-seat Davies Symphony Hall. Last week, it was Gubaidulina's Second Violin Concerto and Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales; tonight, György Ligeti Requiem and Martha Argerich, playing Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto, were San Francisco's American Idol winners.

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Modern Classical Review
March 3, 2009

The North American premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s 2007 Violin Concerto No. 2, In tempus praesens (In the present time), arrived Thursday as an important musical event, revealing a strong, compelling, unusual, and rewarding work.

The soloist, Anne-Sophie Mutter (who had commissioned the concerto), gave a stunningly brilliant performance, with the highest of notes (some close to scraping the instrument’s bridge) coming across rock solid, overtones swirling in the air … all without visible or audible effort.

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Upcoming Concert
March 2, 2009
For a "modern-dance company," ODC feels like an old friend. Actually, it's more than just a matter of sentiment. Known as the Oberlin Dance Collective when Brenda Way formed the troupe in Ohio in 1971, the now-geographics-free ODC took an old yellow bus to San Francisco in 1976, and became a vital part of the city's cultural fabric.

The upcoming spring season, ODC/Dance Downtown, takes place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, March 12-29. It offers new music, new choreography, and a repertory of five recent favorites.

Way (winner of an American Academy in Rome Residency) is the choreographer for the world premiere of Memory of the Forest, to a score by Jay Cloidt, and Co-Artistic Director KT Nelson is introducing another premiere: Grassland, to music by Marcelo Zarvos.

Memory of the Forest is inspired by the life of Way's late mother-in-law, Iza Erlich. As a teenager in 1941, she walked away from the Warsaw Ghetto, traversing Poland, Germany, and Russia to find her future husband who had departed months earlier. Brenda Way

Erlich recorded her memories on a set of four audiotapes and always imagined that her story might be material for a dance. "Iza, a social worker by trade, believed in the power of art to communicate emotional experience," says Way. "Her story of intrigue, grit, and humor offers a hopeful note in our own tumultuous times." Working with Way are video artists David and Ha-Jin Hodge, and lighting designer and visual artist Elaine Buckholtz.

Creating the piece, Way says, has been "both a personal journey and an invigorating choreographic exploration. Working with dancers who put their amazing capacity on the line every day is a powerful way to explore meaning in my life."

Chin-Chin Hsu, Anne Zivolich, and Yayoi Kambara

Zarvos's score for Nelson's abstract Grassland is performed live by violinist Ren Mandel (long associated with dance, having married San Francisco Ballet star Joanna Berman), former Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist Gianna Abondolo, Berkeley Symphony concertmaster Franklyn D'Antonio, San Francisco Opera Orchestra violist Joy Fellows, with Zarvos on piano.

Works repeated from the last season include Way's Unintended Consequences: A Meditation, set on music by Laurie Anderson, and Origins of Flight, to music by Heinrich Biber, Arcangelo Corelli, and Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Also on the program is Way's 1996 Weird Weather, to music by the Hohner Percussion Ensemble.

Also scheduled: Nelson's 2008 Hunting and Gathering, to music by Bryan Eno and David Byrne, and They've Lost Their Footing to music by the Swedish rock-folk group Hoven Droven.

A $20 "Small Plates" event is offered on March 19 at 6:30 p.m., featuring an hour-long performance, with complimentary drinks and appetizers.

 

 

The company consists of 11 dancers: Daniel Santos, Anne Zivolich, Yayoi Kambara, Corey Brady, Quilet Rarang, Elizabeth Farotte, Jeremy Smith, Aaron Perlstein, Vanessa Thiessen, Robert Dekkers, and Dennis Adams (apprentice).

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Music News
February 27, 2009

Teenage Composer at SFSYO Concert

On the program of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra's March 8 concert: the premiere of 17-year-old Preben Antonsen's Thresh of Gear. The conductor is Wattis Foundation Music Director Benjamin Shwartz; the concert also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.

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Archive Review
February 3, 2009

On Sunday, at Alek Shrader's Schwabacher Debut Recital in Temple Emanu-El, presented by the San Francisco Opera, I was wondering about the tenor's response if Barbara Walters should ask him what kind of tree he would be. Not knowing the answer, I came up with a question to which the answer is obvious. What kind of drinking glass would Shrader be? Tall, clear, gracefully simple, and full. This is a transparent tenor, an extraordinarily ordinary singer — "ordinary" in the sense of plain, simple, unadorned, straightforward. Would that there were more like him!

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Upcoming Concert
January 30, 2009
Now in her absolute prime, Cecilia Bartoli has established herself as one of the greatest singers of this or any age. It’s not just her phenomenal technique and unique, rapid-fire coloratura, both of which will be amply demonstrated in her presentation of María Malibrán’s Salon Romantique. Nor is it simply a matter of vocal beauty, which she supplies in abundance. Rather, it is the fact that she employs her gifts with consummate musical intelligence. With Bartoli’s singing, the art of bel canto, which depends upon subtle nuance and inflection, has been given a new lease on life. While the recital is sold out, there is always a chance that tickets will be turned in, released, or scalped at the last minute. If you’ve never heard Bartoli in person, there’s nothing like it. The spirit in the hall will be tremendous. As is her graciousness. More »
Upcoming Concert
January 30, 2009
Stanford Lively Arts has been at the forefront of local Messiaen centenary year celebrations. In their last presentation, Christopher Taylor returns to the Bay Area with Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus for solo piano, a lyrical, mystical, and profoundly virtuosic meditation on the nature of the Christ child. More »
Upcoming Concert
January 30, 2009
It has been more than 20 years since the debut of Helgi Tomasson’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake for the San Francisco Ballet. This time around the most-cherished and well-known of ballets gets a complete restaging featuring scenery and costumes by European designer Jonathan Fensom, who will try to avoid that “museum piece” feel. For this full-length premiere, one of the few this season, Tomasson says he was intruigued by working with Fensom, a newbie to ballet, but a Tony Award nominee (for Journey’s End in 2007) who has created costumes and sets for dozens of plays in London’s West End and on Broadway, plus some opera. More »
Upcoming Concert
January 29, 2009
The late James Schwabacher established a debut recital series 26 years ago, providing performance opportunities for young singers many of whom have gone on to great fame. The 2009 series features tenor Alek Shrader (Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner, and making several impressive War Memorial appearances last month), baritone Quinn Kelsey, tenor James Benjamin Rodgers, and Steven Blier’s “New York Festival of Song,” with soprano Leah Crocetto, mezzo Renée Tatum, and tenor Andrew Bidlack. More »
Upcoming Concert
January 29, 2009
Allan Shearer’s new opera The Dawn Makers is based on the ancient Greek myth of Eos, goddess of the dawn and her human lover, Tithonys, who is made immortal but not eternally youthful. In this comic updating, the couple are joined by a pool man who knows enough to decline the offer of immortality, and two Valley girls who double as the horses of the Goddess’ chariot. Composers, Inc.’s fully staged production (in honor of their 25th anniversary) boasts a distinguished cast, including Christine Brandes, John Duykers, and Eugene Brancoveanu. More »
Upcoming Concert
  • Family Friendly
  • First Time Concert Goer
  • Free Event
January 29, 2009
Years ago, Ruth Felt’s San Francisco Performances introduced a young violinist and pianist to the Bay Area. By now, Christian Tetzlaff and Leif Ove Andsnes are among the most acclaimed musicians in the world. The German violinist and Norwegian pianist are returning to Herbst Theatre for a much-anticipated concert, performing music by Janáček, Brahms, Mozart, and Schubert. More »
Archive Review
January 20, 2009

In a more perfect world, today's Presidential Inauguration would take place in balmy San Francisco, the event concluding with Dona Nobis Pacem (Give us peace), from J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. This majestic and heartrending expression of yearning for peace and the good of all humanity would be performed, in my fantasy concert, by the American Bach Soloists, under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas.

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Feature Article
January 6, 2009

What better way to start the new year than by looking back at half a century in the life of one of our most distinguished musicians?

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Music News
December 24, 2008

The Seven Percent ‘Solution’

UPDATE: According to reports from San Francisco City Hall Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors tabled Aaron Peskin’s budget-cutting proposals, including the 50 percent reduction in support to the Opera, Symphony, Ballet, and other organizations.

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Archive Review
December 9, 2008

My first encounter with the piano came from a Tom and Jerry cartoon, where Tom plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. I had no idea what it was, but it made me want to play the piano.
Lang Lang was 2 years old when that historic event occurred. A few months later, he started playing the piano, at age 5 he won his first contest ... and the rest is history.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
November 20, 2008

Halloween has long gone, but Berkeley Symphony music director candidate Paul Haas arrived wearing a disguise.

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Feature Article
November 25, 2008

Religious holidays occur in the context of philosophies favoring the small over the big, the poor over the rich. Accordingly, this report will relegate the usual large and often costly events to an end-of-file roundup. Up front, there will be smaller, less familiar, and less costly events. Also, we are including celebrations by other than established religions, featuring events that are festive and fun, even if without a significant "message."

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Archive Review
November 25, 2008

Mahler's 1910 Eighth Symphony, called by some (but surely not by high-minded musicologists) "Symphony of a Thousand," is among the most massive works in all of music. It requires eight heavy-duty soloists and, in the current San Francisco Symphony production, it uses three choruses of some 250 singers, and two orchestras, totaling more than 100 instrumentalists.

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Archive Review
November 4, 2008

Donizetti's most effervescent music, a simple and heartwarming story, melodies galore — The Elixir of Love is a virtually foolproof opera. Small companies, even schools produce it successfully, and even in a big house, you can't really fault a "prudent" approach to casting young singers, not-quite-stars, and such. The work will take care of itself.

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Archive Review
October 28, 2008

Not all Russians are alike. Modest Mussorgsky wrote big, earthshaking operas. Anton Chekhov created gloriously subtle, understated plays.
Attributed to Mussorgsky, the version of Boris Godunov that San Francisco Opera presents in its new production of the work ends suddenly, quietly, Chekhovlike, sending the audience out into the street in a state of puzzlement, thinking: "Is it really over? What was that?!"

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