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.


Kids & Families Feature
March 9, 2010

Restless adolescents and concerned parents alike, all around the Bay Area, have discovered that a symphony orchestra can be a great place for kids to hang out.

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Feature Article
March 2, 2010

The yin and yang of musical fashions and fads shift every 20 or 25 years, and always have done. In the 1950s, concert music fledged itself from new music in traditional tonal style and notation toward an increasing respect for serial music, and in the process up popped Elliot Carter, John Cage, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, and the like. In that process, perfectly respectable and popular composers got pretty much shoved out of the nest. Performances of the major American composers of the early 20th century have radically dwindled, with the exceptions of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

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Feature Article
February 23, 2010

The dust had not even settled after the Green Music Center’s successful acoustical debut on Feb. 12, when a storm blew up in Sonoma County turning that dust into a gray cloud over the entire project. The storm last Thursday, Feb. 18, was the raid by the FBI and other investigators on Sonoma State University’s administration and finance department and the seizure of computers and boxes of records.

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Feature Article
February 16, 2010

In late 2006, Misha Dichter was visiting his wife’s family in Rio when he sat down at the piano to practice Brahms’ Ballade in D Minor, Op. 10. A simple chord in the second measure stopped him cold. The renowned pianist couldn’t stretch the fingers on his right hand to make the interval of a major sixth. He panicked.

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Feature Article
February 9, 2010

For anyone who cares about 17th-century music, 2010 is without question a Claudio Monteverdi year. The 400th anniversary of the composer’s ground-breaking and magisterial Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers for the Blessed Virgin) of 1610 is a ripe occasion to program the sacred masterpiece of an artist deemed “the creator of modern music” by scholar Leo Schrade. It’s an opportunity that Magnificat Baroque wasn’t about to miss. The Bay Area ensemble concludes its 18th season with an April 23-25 slate of Vespers concerts.

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Feature Article
February 2, 2010

Berkeley Opera has always been known for its adventurous spirit. While it has never enjoyed the large subscriber base — or extravagant budgets — of its high-profile counterparts, the company has given audiences a wide range of productions in the last three decades, offering forgotten masterpieces, English adaptations, and world premieres alongside standards of the repertoire.

This month, though, the company embarks on one of its biggest adventures to date: After years at the Julia Morgan Theater, Berkeley Opera is moving to El Cerrito.

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Feature Article
January 26, 2010

Violinist Yin Bin Qian wanted to study abroad after graduating from the prestigious Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the oldest Western-oriented music school in China. He applied to graduate school at Yale, the Eastman School of Music, USC, and other American colleges. But after hearing violinist Wei He perform at the Shanghai Conservatory last year, Qian set his sights on the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where He is on the faculty.

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Feature Article
January 19, 2010

In our childhoods we all internalize the decimal system and its powers of 10. This is probably why we fetishize the ends of centuries and decades as important stock-taking moments. Not to be left out, SFCV will bring you a few end-of-decade musings over the next few months. Here’s a list of several important and interesting developments that the decade has brought into focus. Feel free to add your own in the comments section and to tell us which ideas you’d like to read more about.

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Feature Article
January 11, 2010

Film composer James Horner has been in the news a good deal lately. Horner is a versatile and experienced musician, with soundtracks as diverse as Star Trek II and Field of Dreams to his credit. His most recent effort, the sci-fi extravaganza Avatar, directed by James Cameron, reunites him with the director and genre that launched his professional career in the first place.

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Feature Article
January 5, 2010

Talk about shocking revelations — British composer/conductor George Benjamin, toast of the San Francisco Symphony in its Jan. 7-17 programs, gets bolts of inspiration literally, from lightning. As he related to me last month, "I’ve always been fascinated by thunderstorms; they’ve influenced many of my works. ... I remember lightning flashes I’ve seen."

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