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!
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?
Legendary pianist Menahem Pressler makes his [email protected] debut on Sunday, Aug. 2, in a concert in Atherton titled "An Evening With Menahem Pressler."
His philosophy of music and his life can be summed up in his first statement in the interview: “It’s a privilege to be a musician, and one who feels so strongly and creatively about the music, even if I’m not as young as I once was. It’s a present.”
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein began her career at age 4 when her grandmother presented her with a homemade instrument assembled from cereal boxes. The young musician gave her first public concert six months later, albeit on a more traditional cello. Since then, Weilerstein — the daughter of violinist Donald Weilerstein and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein — has been widely acclaimed as one of the leading interpreters of her generation, in a variety of repertoire.
George Cleve is the conductor and founder of the Midsummer Mozart Festival. He was conductor of the San Jose Symphony for 20 years, and continues to conduct both in the U.S. and abroad.
Congratulations on the 35th season of the Midsummer Mozart Festival. What factors do you consider when programming the festival after all of these years?
Over the last 18 years, Maestro Bruno Weil has transformed the Carmel Bach Festival into a major international event. The seaside festival, which celebrates the music of J.S. Bach and the composers inspired by him, is known for the rich range of its programming and the consistent high quality of its performances.
Not yet 29, conductor Alondra de la Parra made history as the first woman from Mexico to conduct in New York City. In her short career, she has presented more than 20 world premieres by such composers as Clarice Assad, Enrico Chapela, Paul Brantley, Paul Desenne, and Eugenio Toussaint.
In 2000, de la Parra moved to New York City where she received her B.A. in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and her master’s in conducting. She has since made the city her home, where she resides with her husband.
Jonathan Khuner is a Bay Area classical music fixture. He is artistic and musical director for the Berkeley Opera. He also divides his time between the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera as assistant conductor and a prompter for both companies.
The Berkeley Opera Company is doing The Ballad of Baby Doe this July. Why did you chose this opera?