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
May 5, 2009

Concert audiences can hear the seemingly impossible sound of a singer, watch a pianist type out an incomprehensible profusion of tones, be moved by someone scrubbing on a very little box, or survive an evening where, in spite of the band’s best efforts, it all falls apart. Yet audiences are willing and eager to ascribe a concert’s overall success to a conductor — the one individual on stage who (we hope) produces no sound at all.

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Kids & Families Feature
April 28, 2009

Like a lot of us, monkeys generally prefer a Russian lullaby to German techno music. But given a choice between music and silence, the apes opt for quiet. It seems their brains simply aren’t wired to enjoy music or pay it much mind. “They don’t care about it,” said Vinod Menon, the noted Stanford neuroscientist who’s deeply engaged in research on music and the brain.

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Feature Article
April 21, 2009

Economic times are tough these days, for sure. But watching expenses doesn’t necessarily mean giving up one of the finer pleasures of life: music performed live. Research suggests that listening to music has a beneficial effect on the listener, even stimulating the release of serotonin, which leads to a sense of well-being.

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Feature Article
April 7, 2009

Being funny, it seems, is serious business. Many years ago, I prepared an audition piece for a critique by an acting coach. My tastes in selecting arias and songs ran to the lugubrious, and someone suggested Dinah’s aria from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. As I was singing it for my coach, I noticed she was laughing her head off.

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Feature Article
March 31, 2009

The composer Kurt Weill and the city of Berlin are often mentioned in the same breath. Both the composer and the city are icons of the Weimar Republic, the name given to Germany’s government between 1919 and 1933.

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Kids & Families Feature
March 24, 2009

San Domenico School’s Virtuoso Program, which will travel from its San Anselmo home to San Francisco for a showcase program here on March 29, goes back to Venetian girls’ orphanages in the 17th century. That, at least, is what the program’s founder, Faith France, told me many years ago. She was teaching music at San Domenico, a small independent school in Marin (which originally opened in Monterey in 1850), when she had an epiphany while visiting Venice.

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Kids & Families Feature
March 10, 2009

What do an archaeologist, a lawyer, and a black belt in jujitsu have in common? They may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, but in reality they're a sampling of the Bay Area's choristers. The hundreds of vocal ensembles in Northern California (the SFCV complilation of Bay Area Music Groups lists some four dozen) are just as varied as their members, covering every imaginable genre, venue, and level of performance. 

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Feature Article
March 3, 2009

It is a season for anniversaries at Berkeley Opera. This year is the company’s 30th season, which will be celebrated at a star-studded gala on March 29, featuring soprano Ruth Ann Swenson. Their current production of Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts in Berkeley through March 8, marks the 10th anniversary of the company’s premiere of librettist David Scott Marley’s adaptation of that work.

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Feature Article
March 3, 2009

Oakland, long recognized as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States, is a microcosm of the new face of America. For Oakland's arts organizations to remain relevant to the city's multicultural population, they must pioneer new forms of outreach and expression. The Oakland East Bay Symphony (OEBS) shines as a model of how an orchestra can thrive by tuning its programming to present and future realities.

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