When you first encounter the quiet, eerie, achingly stretched opening chords of Bartók’s first string quartet, you know that you are in the presence of something magnificent. That the Alexander String Quartet’s would present the complete cycles of Bartók’s six and Kodály’s two string quartets is newsworthy enough, but there is more to the story.
San Francisco Symphony opens the 2011 portion of its 99th season with great music presented through the collaboration of a world-famous French pianist and a rapidly emerging young Ukrainian conductor making his debut.
When looking at the hundreds of symphony, opera, chamber music, and dance performances coming to the Bay Area during the first half of 2011, there has to be some touchstone to narrow choices. And so the focus here is on offerings by some of the small- and medium-size organizations.
Continuing the seasonal feature from last week's column: The fun is not over yet. If you participate this week by e-mailing your brief responses, there will be one more partridge in the pear tree next Tuesday.
Casually asking a few people about their favorite holiday song or music grew like Topsy, and here are a few from among many replies. Most are abbreviated, and any response with "Jingle Bells" or TV commercial soundtracks was ruthlessly eliminated. The project, to give this a grandiose name, is not over: Please participate during the next two weeks by e-mailing your brief responses.
In 1911, just after the Great Quake of 1906 wiped out much of the city, the San Francisco Symphony was born, and the orchestra is now preparing for a star-spangled centennial season. Here's a preview of great things to come.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman today announced the latest round of NEA funding totaling $26.68 million awarded through 1,057 grants to nonprofit organizations nationwide. San Francisco Classical Voice was awarded its first-ever grant of $10,000 to support the addition of podcasting and videocasting features.
It's startling, to learn that the Audio Engineering Society has been around long enough to have held its 129th convention in San Francisco last week. Not that AES is that old — it was established in 1948 — but it's that active. The Society has 14,000 members throughout the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Japan, and the Far East.
James Conlon is one of the finest conductors around, and he is also a maverick presenter of unusual programs. And so it was expected that he would bring something different to his current appearances with the San Francisco Symphony (which he first led 32 years ago), and he did not disappoint.
Major supporters of the arts get some — not enough — publicity, and ceaseless, ever-present benefit angels such as Frederica von Stade model are also known — also not enough — though publicity is not why they do what they do.
If no weapons are involved, next time I am facing a gang in a dark alley, I want Gabriel Manro on my side. Making his debut here, in the West Bay Opera’s sensational production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, Manro is a new kind of baritone: not lyric, not helden, not Kavalier, not Bariton-Martin — none of those. Rather, he’s a knock-down baritone.
At 83, Dame Cleo Laine's fabulous voice is in "good shape," she says, adding: "But I don't sing [Schoenberg's] Pierrot Lunaire anymore." She has also pulled back on her legendary three-octave range, with that hair-raising high G on top that fans had thrilled to for the past 60 years.