Jason Victor Serinus
Jason Victor Serinus is a music critic, professional whistler, and lecturer on classical vocal recordings. His credits includes Seattle Times, Listen, Opera News, Opera Now, American Record Guide, Stereophile, Classical Voice North America, Carnegie Hall Playbill, Gramophone, San Francisco Magazine, Stanford Live, Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco Examiner, AudioStream, and California Magazine.
Articles by this Author
Renée Fleming surprised us on Sunday night. Walking onto the Zellerbach Hall stage for her virtually sold-out Cal Performances recital, ensconced in a form-fitting, gorgeous green dress that would be the envy of any prom queen, she looked as beautiful as ever. But no one expected her, after she took her place alongside the piano, to pick up a microphone and address the audience.More about Cal Performances »
When Christine Lim of San Francisco Performances invited former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow soprano Ji Young Yang to present a one-hour Salon at the Rex, Yang proposed a pairing with her fellow, former Adlerian, countertenor Gerald Thompson. Thus was born a duo recital that began with early music, then embraced the unexpected.
The duo immediately set the tone on Wednesday night with two works by Purcell.More about San Francisco Performances »
A significant homecoming is on the horizon for the Kronos Quartet. On Dec. 13 at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, the astounding Joan Jeanrenaud, who was the quartet’s cellist for two decades before taking her leave over 10 years ago, rejoins her old cohorts for the world premiere of Vladimir Martynov’s Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished). The work was written with a reunion in mind.More about Kronos Quartet »
Given the large number of fine recordings released in the past year, a first-time visitor to Planet Earth would hardly suspect that the record industry is in the doldrums. Nor will the music lovers on your holiday gift list think anything is amiss, if you present them with one or more of the sonic goodies in the guide that follows.
For well over a year, SFCV has been publishing reviews of CDs and DVDs. Most recordings that we’ve already covered, which run the gamut from core repertoire to the new and upcoming, would make swell holiday gifts.More "A Gift of Song For the Holidays" »
It’s a toss-up as to whether listening to mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli’s spectacular new Decca recording of music written for the star castrati of the 18th century is more exhilarating or exhausting. Many of Sacrificium’s 15 arias, which are stronger as virtuosic showpieces than conveyers of emotional truth, contain more trills, roulades, and impossibly difficult runs than any singer can be rightly expected to generate in the course of a day.More »
Eyebrows rise at the thought of Renée Fleming, a soprano who has built her reputation on the creamy beauty she brings to lyric soprano roles created by Mozart, Strauss, and others, singing the wrenching verismo repertoire of Puccini, Mascagni, Catalani, Cilea, and others. Verismo is about blood and guts, sweat and suffering, and enough over-the-top singing to sear the makeup off Fleming’s ubiquitous glamour shots.More »
I have no greater joy than basking in the artistry of a great singer at the top of her form. Such was my feeling as mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, perfectly accompanied by pianist John Churchwell, began her San Francisco Performances recital Monday at Herbst Theatre. Singing to an eager audience that included many supporters and fans who have followed her ever since her 1997 San Francisco summer in the Merola Opera Program, DiDonato looked every inch the star in the baby-blue, Grecian-style dress and gold-patterned cinch that perfectly complemented her shining blonde hair.More about San Francisco Performances »
Pictures Reframed, a multimedia presentation of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition that unites the pianism of Norway’s Leif Ove Andsnes (b. 1970) with the graphics and film of South African visual artist Robin Rhode (b. 1976), is a stunning achievement. Far more than merely another multimedia collaboration for our multitasking, iPod-toting era, it brilliantly illumines Mussorgsky’s achievement in ways that transcend the literalism of words, images, and notes on a page.More »
She’s a veteran Sicilian soprano who has sung at the Met, Covent Garden, and La Scala. He’s the young Mexican tenor who, having won Placido Domingo’s 2006 Operalia Competition, went from the Merola summer program to an Adler Fellowship.
The major roles he’s undertaking at the War Memorial Opera House clearly indicate that he’s being groomed as a future Pavarotti. (He has already subbed for Rolando Villazón.)More about Cal Performances »
By the time she completes the first astounding 50-second musical statement of “D’Amor al dolce impero” (To the sweet rule of love), mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has delivered her calling card. The soaring high notes, seamless runs, and imperious declarations of the impossibly demanding second-act finale of Gioachino Rossini’s opera Armida establish, in no uncertain terms, that she’s a major artist at the height of her powers.More »
Texas-born mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is no stranger to these parts. Since 1990, she has sung everything from Monteverdi to Jake Heggie in six different productions with San Francisco Opera, performed several times in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, and sung two recitals here. Most recently, she brought an uncommonly gentle and intimate touch to Mahler’s five Rückert Lieder, recorded in performance for future release in the Symphony’s Mahler series.More »
As powerful as bass-baritone Bryn Terfel’s voice is, it’s not strong enough to sink the British Isles by itself. But were you to play the great Bryn’s latest CD, Scarborough Fair: Songs from the British Isles (Deutsches Grammophon B0012642-02), loud enough, the combined force of Terfel’s magnificent instrument and Chris Hazel’s insufferable arrangements for the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra, unsparingly conducted by Barry Wordsworth, just might do the once-mighty empire in.More »
Not since winter 1997, when pianist Sarah Cahill organized a three-day piano marathon of works by Henry Cowell (1897-1965) and those he influenced, have Bay Area music lovers had an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the oeuvre of one of America’s most brilliant musical mavericks. Now, thanks to Charles Amirkhanian’s Other Minds, we can enjoy two different concerts on Nov. 12 and 13 that explore the breadth and depth of Cowell’s legacy.More about Other Minds »
It was a night of opposites. For the first half of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s semi-annual Lieder Alive concert series in SFCM’s Concert Hall, we had tenor Eleazar Rodriguez, a 2009 Merola Opera participant who is compact of voice and frame. The second half belonged to soprano Heidi Melton, a former Merolina and second year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who is robust of voice and frame.More about San Francisco Conservatory of Music »
Berkeley-raised conductor J. Karla Lemon, who conducted a host of local and national new music ensembles and orchestras between teaching gigs at Stanford University and other institutions, died peacefully at her Oakland home on October 15. The cause of death was a massive and catastrophic stroke endured during open-heart surgery for correction of a congenital heart condition.More "In Memoriam: J. Karla Lemon" »
Mexico’s Día de los Muertos is hardly a day for mourning. A celebration of those who have died, it centers on offerings of food, flowers, and fanciful ceremonial altars for the departed. More about San Francisco Symphony »
Award-winning producer Manfred Eicher’s transcendent vision for his ECM New Series recordings defies simple categorization. A case in point is violist Kim Kashkashian's Neharót, a collection of unusual, oft-rarefied pieces that transcend national and genre boundaries, the recording touches the heart with its universal expressions of longing and prayer.More »
Some people are born to pound their way through life. Take Loren Mach, for example. In an extended phone chat about his plans for the second installment of San Francisco Chamber Orchestra’s “Classical at the Freight Percussion Fest” (details here), the percussionist with both the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (SFCO) and the Adorno Ensemble revealed that “As a kid, I was tapping and beating on everything, from my high chair at the dinner table to coffee cans in the basement.”More about Classical at the Freight »