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Green Music Center Offers a Fresh Mix of Online Conversation and Performances

September 21, 2020

Undaunted by the ongoing shuttering of its famous Weill and Schroeder Halls, Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center announced a robust fall program dubbed The Green Room. A dozen online events offer something for nearly every musical interest, from classical chamber music to hip-hop, with a timely focus on Black music and issues this season. Some of the events combine interviews, performances, and interaction between the artists and students, others are straightforward concerts. Tickets are priced at a very reasonable $10 per event, with subscription options available.

The series kicked off on Sept. 17 with A Form of Protest, the first of Michael Mwenso’s Black Music Series events. Jazz musician, performing artist, and spiritual guide Mwenso and his guests delve into a wide range of his own discoveries while shedding light on the Black experience though discussion, historical recordings, and performance. Upcoming events in the series include The Code Switch on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. and Ancestry on Thuursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

Chamber music enthusiasts can celebrate two free online performances from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Front Row: National series, which is curated by co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han. These concerts are not part of the regular subscription series, but tickets are required. Coming up: Summer Evenings IV on Saturday, Oct. 17, with a program featuring Geminiani, Haydn, and Copland. Then there is Artist Series: David Shifrin, clarinet on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in a program featuring Mozart, Bassi, and Ellington, and Artist Series: Gilbert Kalish, piano on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m., innovative guitarist guitarist Jiji takes center screen. The soloist plays both acoustic and electric instruments, and she has worked with noted new-music ensembles Eighth Blackbird, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and wildUp. According to a press release for this show, “Jiji is celebrated for her performances of works by numerous emerging composers, as well as her own compositions which incorporate electronic media and acoustic music.”

Look for Las Cafeteras on Thursday, Oct 15 at 7 p.m. The Los Angeles Times calls Las Cafeteras a “uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia, and rock.” Their genre-bending sound features versatile vocalists and instrumentalists generating new sounds ranging from “Afro-Mexican to Americana, from the Caribbean to California, from traditional to electric, from English to Spanish, with all the emotions in between.” 

Versatility is the word for string ensemble Invoke, which hits the Green Room on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. The multi-instrumental band is comfortable playing as a traditional string quartet and equally adept at adding banjos and mandolins to the mix for a more bluegrass sound. Invoke describes its sound as encompassing “traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism. Invoke weaves all of these styles together to create truly individual music, written by and for the group.

If dance is your thing, be sure to tune in for Liz Lerman on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., when she will discuss Wicked Bodies (Sonoma), a site-specific work-in-progress that explores depictions of women’s bodies across multiple historic periods. The event will feature a video from the rehearsal process as well as a discussion of Lerman’s inspiration and themes found in the piece, plans for making it, and opportunities for people to participate in the development.

Hailed by the The Boston Globe as “the most important American quartet in history,” the indomitable Juilliard String Quartet returns to the Green in virtual format on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. Members will discuss their careers, the life of a quartet, and how they are surviving the pandemic. They will also share performances from works by Mozart, Dutilleux, and Brahms.

The virtual season wraps on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. with a visit from DDAT, a multicultural ensemble blending poetic lyrics, hip-hop style, and hard-driving instrumental fire. Members of the band will share their personal stories, wide ranging influences, and stories of how they serve as ambassadors of Navajo Cultural Music.

More information about the series and individual events is available at The Green Room website.

Paul Kotapish is the managing editor for SFCV.  You can learn more here or at guitarfish.net.