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Robert P. Commanday

Robert P. Commanday, founding editor of San Francisco Classical Voice, was the music critic of The San Francisco Chronicle from 1965 to 1993, and before that a conductor and lecturer at UC Berkeley.

Articles by this Author

Opera Review
June 5, 2011

As shown in Götterdämmerung, Francesca Zambello believes that the entire Ring drama can shine the light on the women.

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Choral Review
May 28, 2011

An unknown sacred work by Antonio Vivaldi receives its Bay Area debut, voiced by Chora Nova.

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Opera Review
May 29, 2011

Despite some regrettable directorial and production choices, S.F. Opera’s Siegfried still delivers strong characters that are very well sung, backed by first-class playing from the orchestra pit.

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Choral Review
May 1, 2011

Brahms’ rich choral works rise again, in a fine program by Paul Flight’s California Bach Society; a little Fauré follows, across the street, sung by the UC Alumni Chorus.

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Upcoming Concert
March 22, 2011

The noted Bay Area composer Andrew Imbrie, who would have turned 90 this year, will be celebrated with a series of concerts, a symposium, and a display of his collected scores and manuscripts.

More about Composers, Inc. »
Choral Review
January 8, 2011

Escaping from “lake-effect” snow and winter, the venerable Cornell Glee Club brought a warm mixture of Romantic-inflected music to its Bay Area concerts.

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Feature Article
December 7, 2010

Jane Hohfeld Galante, a leading chamber musician and prominent San Franciscan, died at her home in San Francisco Wednesday morning. 

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Opera Review
August 12, 2010

Were there the shadow of a doubt of the continuing and historic power of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde to capture and move its audiences, this summer’s Seattle Opera production dispelled it, two major shortcomings notwithstanding. The leading strength in Thursday’s fourth of seven performances was appropriately the orchestra.

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Feature Article
April 27, 2010

Alan Rich, America’s most outspoken classical music critic, died in his sleep Friday in his home in West Los Angeles at the age of 85. For his entire career, he was as full-out in his enthusiasms and advocacies as he was unsparing and sharp in his assessments, always making a deep impression.

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Feature Article
February 23, 2010

The dust had not even settled after the Green Music Center’s successful acoustical debut on Feb. 12, when a storm blew up in Sonoma County turning that dust into a gray cloud over the entire project. The storm last Thursday, Feb. 18, was the raid by the FBI and other investigators on Sonoma State University’s administration and finance department and the seizure of computers and boxes of records.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
February 13, 2010

While California and its constituent parts sit in a blue mood, Sonoma County on Friday night was celebrating the future and its hopes. At least, 350 of its movers and shakers were doing that, the donors who had raised much of the $96 million toward building the Green Music Center on the Rohnert Park campus of Sonoma State University. In their presence that night, the Santa Rosa Symphony gave the first real test to the auditorium that bids to be the prime symphony hall in Northern California.

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Feature Article
December 29, 2009

Mariedi Anders, a leading American concert manager and the first in San Francisco, died Dec. 26 in the California Pacific Hospital after a short illness. She was 94. She was a major agent on the West Coast, managing her Mariedi Anders Artists Management, Inc., for 50 years, right up to her death. She was noted throughout the industry for her devotion to her artists, her energy, and her determination in the introduction of new artists.

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Chamber Music Review
October 25, 2009

The San Francisco Symphony’s Chamber Music Series, offered most Sunday afternoons, is a dependable bet. There, members of the Symphony emerge as individuals from orchestral submersion and can be heard doing what they most like to do, as best they can. The players, not the Symphony, program it, so there is little or no Russian music, no Mahler, but rather music of fresh interest — as was the case last Sunday in Davies Symphony Hall.

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Opera Review
August 18, 2009

The Seattle Opera’s Siegfried performed heroically on Wednesday, fighting the lingering effects of an illness more challenging than Fafner the dragon. Stig Andersen’s strategy worked. His holding back or “soldiering” through Siegfried Act 1’s sword-forging allowed him to end stronger in the finale scene, the awakening of Brünnhilde. Good thing he toughed it out.

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Opera Review
August 11, 2009

There’s a lot of life left in the old Ring myth, made abundantly apparent Sunday and Monday in the opening of Seattle Opera’s current rerunning of Wagner’s tetralogy. With Stephen Wadsworth’s imaginative direction, the first two operas, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, were wholly engaging, his fresh interpretation showing how little need there is to transport the story into different times, cultures, or modern places, to try to make obvious strained metaphors of class or economic conflict or whatever.

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Chamber Orchestra/Orchestra Review
May 31, 2009

The musically merry month of May came to a close on Sunday, traditionally as ever, with concerts conjoined to graduations, two that could not have been more different. The first, in the afternoon at Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium, found the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (aka PACO) both featuring and graduating 18 senior members, headed now for 15 different universities, the Eastman School of Music, and two fine colleges.

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Festival Review
March 15, 2009

A summer-style music festival in the middle of March? There it was, full-blown in Boca Raton, Florida, the resort community's third annual Festival of the Arts Boca, March 5-15. Of course mid-March is summer there, both weather-wise and in the lifestyle of the seasonal residents who swell the local population this time of year, the snowbirds from New York and the Northeast. Properly for a festival, it was thematically focused and might have been called the Itzhak Perlman Festival. His presence and performances were being celebrated for the 50th anniversary of his U.S. debut.

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Archive Review
December 16, 2008

The Santa Rosa Symphony has more than earned its role as the future orchestra-in-residence at the Green Music Center, now edging toward completion at Sonoma State University (see the feature article). It has made remarkable progress during the past two decades, even under the handicap of an acoustically mediocre home. Its large and loyal audience has remained true and, further, has produced major patrons, support, and leadership for the Green Center.

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Feature Article
December 16, 2008

Good news does happen, even now. It took a short trip north, a week ago, to find it — but there it was, the Green Music Center, in Rohnert Park. It's Sonoma County's hope and prospects for a future in which things can only be brighter. If a concert hall just 84 percent completed can be assuring of its eventual success by its mere appearance, this one goes a long way. Further, it appears to be a near replication of the Seiji Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Music Center, by the same architects, William Rawn Associates, and acoustician, Lawrence Kirkegaard.

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Archive Review
August 5, 2008

In the world of fine cello soloists, Matt Haimovitz has to be a leading adventurer. There he was at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Sunday night in the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, performing a solo recital of prodigiously challenging pieces that many of his colleagues may never have heard of. And performing them with flair and passion as if this were core repertory.

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