Artist Spotlight

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!


Artist Spotlight
October 19, 2010

Over three decades, he’s refashioned tasty morsels of jazz, country, world, pop, and classical music, but Bill Frisell and his guitars have always flown far above pigeonholes. Frisell spoke to SFCV from the autumnal splendor of the Vermont Studio Center, where he and his wife, painter Carole d’Inverno, were pursuing their crafts for several weeks in the inspiring company of four dozen other artists.

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Artist Spotlight
October 18, 2010

Robert McDuffie is the quintessential American violinist, despite having performed with most major European and American orchestras and founding the Rome Chamber Music Festival. His love affair with American repertoire began with Samuel Barber and is currently manifest in a new piece, commissioned from Philip Glass, which he will perform on Nov. 2 at Herbst Theatre. McDuffie spoke to SFCV, in his soft, southern accent, about his life and work.

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Artist Spotlight
October 11, 2010

As one of the world’s best-known classical guitarists, John Williams has been responsible for both raising the instrument’s profile and expanding its repertoire. Today Williams, 69, has performed and recorded virtually every piece for the standard classical guitar repertoire; he has also championed African, Cuban, and Latin American composers, and collaborated widely. In a recent call from his home in London, he talked about his work and this week’s concert, which marks his 10th appearance for San Francisco Performances.

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Artist Spotlight
October 5, 2010

Ever since arriving in the U.S. 20 years ago Wu Man — the indefatigable, conservatory-trained master of the Pudong School of classical pipa playing — has made it her mission to explore new and diverse avenues for pipa recognition. A one-woman evangelist for her instrument, she converses with natural grace and charm as she recounts milestones in her journey.

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Artist Spotlight
September 28, 2010

Whether it's girdling the globe or picking up an Avery Fisher Career Grant at Lincoln Center, both of which she's accomplished this year, 24-year-old Joyce Yang is particular about choosing both her piano repertoire and her wardrobe. She discusses her choices with SFCV, and reveals how she applies all six of her senses to the keyboard.

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Artist Spotlight
September 27, 2010

Alex Ross, music critic at The New Yorker since 1996, returns to the Bay Area for Cal Performances’ Strictly Speaking series on Oct. 14 to address and sample from his new book. Here, he talks with SFCV about his last tour and the enthusiastic response accorded to his last book, The Rest Is Noise, as well as about what he’ll talk about in October — plus this and that which came up along the way.

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Artist Spotlight
September 20, 2010

She drew global attention to her win in Moscow in the International Tchaikovsky Competition 15 years ago, but violinist Jennifer Koh has since developed a reputation as a standard bearer for the nonstandard repertoire. A closer look at her performance programming reveals her conviction that there’s a vital link between past and present. Here she talks with SFCV about her choices.

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Artist Spotlight
September 20, 2010

In her 33-year career as a professional violinist, Anne Akiko Meyers, 40, has amassed a unique resumé that includes a debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 12 and recent tours with Il Divo and Chris Botti. Shortly before she launches her new CD with an Oct. 4 concert, she discusses her childhood debut on The Tonight Show, bowing problems associated with pregnancy, and her love of the old and embrace of the new.

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Artist Spotlight
September 13, 2010

Soprano Danielle de Niese — eye-buggingly beautiful, extremely intelligent, and madly in love with everything she does — is a joy to interview. Here she talks about her steamy iPod encounters, S.F. Opera debut in Figaro, work with Nicola Luisotti, and recent vocal developments. 

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Artist Spotlight
September 13, 2010

Robert Levin is a leading keyboard artist, active in early music and historically informed performance, most notably for his expertise in the works of Mozart. His improvisational skills in this idiom are legendary — an approach not many dare to take, yet one he considers essential to the interpretation of this music. Here he talks with SFCV about finding Mozart fragments, the art of improvisation, and the importance of playing on the original instrument. 

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