Music Articles

Every week, our writers take an in‐depth look at an artist, program or topic of interest to us. Spend some time with this week's classical music feature, or scroll through the extensive SFCV archive for insights in many music topics.


Feature Article
September 9, 2008

Have you seen Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg yet? If you read The San Francisco Chronicle, you probably have. She smiles out at you from full-page ads in the last several Sunday "Pink Sections," not to mention smaller, but still eye-catching ads in the occasional weekday edition (sometimes even in the first — that is, the national news — section, rather than the arts pages).

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Feature Article
September 2, 2008

At first glance, The Bonesetter's Daughter seems unlikely source material for an opera. Amy Tan's 2001 novel spans two continents and three generations, encompassing contemporary American life, ancient Chinese myth, ghost stories, family secrets, and the search for personal identity. How does a composer translate such a story from the page to the stage?

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Feature Article
August 19, 2008

The wistful lyrics from West Side Story must have had a special meaning for David Gockley as he contemplated the lack of appropriate performance venues in the city. It was a couple of years ago, and Gockley had just arrived as the new general director of San Francisco Opera. Among the first questions asked of him was whether he'd be interested in reviving the company's old Spring Opera Theater. The answer was an instant "yes," clearly indicating that Gockley is among the many fans of the low-cost series featuring young talent in the 1960s and '70s.

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Kids & Families Feature
August 12, 2008

On the day my lifelong infatuation with classical radio died, I hardly realized it would be revived by the Internet just a year later and become better than ever — so exciting that my CDs are quickly becoming superfluous, forgotten on their dusty shelves. Studio recordings simply can't compare to the magnetism of the great live performances on Internet radio. (See a list of recommended stations, below.) When I go to a recordings store these days I find myself going through the motions.

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Feature Article
August 5, 2008

My sister forwarded me a menu last week from an early 1950s Woolworth’s diner counter, which she intended to give me price shock. It sort of did: A ham salad sandwich went for 30 cents, a slice of apple pie or layer cake was 15 cents, and a banana split cost a whole 25 cents.

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Feature Article
July 29, 2008

It goes without saying that the Cabrillo Festival is going to win next year's ASCAP annual award for the most Adventurous Programming of Orchestral Music by a festival. It has won every year since the award was initiated in 1982.

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Feature Article
July 22, 2008

Last month I witnessed an unusual spectacle at the Bergen Music Festival in Norway. After three or four curtain calls, clapping in unison began and, as if by prearranged signal, everyone stood at once in enthusiastic acknowledgement. The orchestra that did the playing was the visiting Stavanger Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ole Kristian Ruud. The music that did the arousing was a new “reconstruction” of the Julekvelden (Yule Eve) Symphony No. 1 by Geirr Tveitt. Who?

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Feature Article
July 15, 2008

"In chamber music, you play the way you are. Are you generous and giving? Are you responding to your friend's suggestions? Do you make the extra effort to make friends in the group so they will want to play with you?" Wu Han, a pianist and co-artistic director of Music at Menlo, was talking about the personal characteristics that make a successful student at the Chamber Music Institute of Music at Menlo, the three-week summer music festival in Atherton and Palo Alto.

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Feature Article
July 8, 2008

The summer music season has arrived and, as always, there’s no shortage of worthy events in and around the Bay Area. Yet, in terms of size, scope, and sheer sensory overload, nothing quite comes close to Festival del Sole.

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Feature Article
July 1, 2008

San José, as its boosters like to point out, is now the largest city in Northern California. But if it’s the leader in population, it has a ways to go to catch up to San Francisco in cultural influence. Still, San José is far from the cultural desert that its flat sprawling landscape might suggest to residents of hillier, more congested parts of the Bay Area. The lively downtown has a flavor to it that you could find, perhaps to your equal surprise, in places like Sacramento and Santa Rosa.

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