These lively Q&A's aim to shed light on the personalities behind the music. Get to know your favorite artists...or discover someone new!
Robert Geary is expanding the envelope of modern choral music, building a body of repertoire by commissioning and performing new music with his three groups — Volti, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, and the San Francisco Choral Society. On Oct. 18, the proud papa of Volti celebrates the group’s 30th anniversary with a special CD release and gala. SFCV caught up with him recently for a conversation.
What inspired you to start Volti?
The founders of the summer music festival [email protected] are returning to the Peninsula this fall. Wu Han and David Finckel, along with Anthony McGill, are performing on Oct. 11 at the opening of the new Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Menlo-Atherton High School. It’s a state-of-the-art building, and, says Wu Han, “I can’t wait to play there.”
How did you become involved with this project?
This week Bay Area music lovers can look forward to two events featuring the music and scholarship of baritone Thomas Hampson. Tuesday evening, he will be joined at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music by curators from the Library of Congress to discuss their collaboration celebrating the history of American song. Wednesday he will perform a concert at Herbst Theatre with pianist Wolfram Rieger, titled “Song of America.” Hampson took time out from his preparations to discuss the project, the relationship between poetry and music, and his latest e-book download.
In his fourth decade as a violinist and as both founder and artistic director of the award-winning Kronos Quartet, David Harrington still exudes the infectious excitement of a gifted student infatuated with experimental and global music from beyond the conservatory’s walls. At Howard’s Café, up the street from Kronos headquarters near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Harrington sits down with me to share memories, opinions, and coffee, as well as the ensemble’s program for its Oct.
When Christopher Honett left the East Coast this summer to start his new job at the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the journey felt like a homecoming. That’s not just because Honett was born and raised in the Bay Area. Joining the venerable new music ensemble, he says, gives him the opportunity to do the kind of work he’s always wanted to do.
Honett, 32, was named the organization’s executive director in July. He succeeds Adam Frey, who served as SFCMP’s top administrator for 18 years.
Christine Brewer is coming to town. Her upcoming recital for Cal Performances on Sept. 27 will feature the music of Berg, Strauss, and Britten, along with some old chestnuts favored by big-voiced sopranos of the last century. She was happy to be back home in St. Louis for a couple of weeks, as I caught up with her to chat about her life as world-class dramatic soprano, mother and ... Hootenanny hostess.
You started out singing in the chorus with Opera Theatre St. Louis. At what point did you feel that you had what it takes to be a soloist?
As he prepares to open the San Francisco Symphony’s 2009-2010 season Wednesday with Prokofiev’s challenging Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26, in Davies Symphony Hall, 27-year-old Lang Lang seems to have embraced his superstar pianist reputation — and run with it.
Soprano Patricia Racette is in town for an important role debut: She’s singing all three soprano leads in Puccini's Il trittico at San Francisco Opera, a feat only a few have tried. She took time out from rehearsals to talk about her career, her plans, and her life with mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton, her partner of many years.
Tell us about San Francisco Opera’s Merola and Adler programs and their importance in your career.
In the decade since he became the youngest composer to win a Pulitzer Prize, for his String Quartet No. 2 (“musica instrumentalis”) in 1998, Aaron Jay Kernis has become one of the leading composers of his generation. Not yet 50, he’s won most of classical music’s top honors and garnered commissions from America’s leading orchestras. The New York–based composer has served for a decade as new-music advisor to the Minnesota Orchestra and directs its Composer Institute.
Raised in Sacramento, and an alumnus of both the Merola program at San Francisco Opera and the Resident Artist training program at Opera San José, bass Kirk Eichelberger now sings lead roles with opera companies throughout the U.S. He is currently in rehearsal to play Mephistopheles in Festival Opera’s production of Faust. I sat down with him to ask him about his career, his training, and how he likes playing the devil.
What did you learn as a resident artist at Opera San José and a graduate of Merola?