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
December 4, 2007

In the Western musical tradition, December is the time for the “holiday concert,” full of impressive, noisy praise, the sing-along Messiah, and dozens of choral offerings featuring carols and the more generic “holiday music.” Nowhere in the generalized musical prescription that fuels our annual shopping and eating binge does it say “gentle, 17th-century, Lutheran, devotional work.”
Sure, the Bay Area has recently seen a couple of performances of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Christmas Mass and other substantial fare, but few organizations, with the notable exception

More »
Feature Article
November 27, 2007

Balancing the comfortable and familiar with the new and challenging — that’s the toughest task of any ambitious arts administrator. When Jennifer Bilfield took over as artistic and executive director of Stanford Lively Arts a year ago, she needed to maintain the existing audience for one of the West Coast’s premier arts programs, now almost 40 years old, while providing the kind of intellectually stimulating programming the Stanford University community craved.

More »
Feature Article
November 20, 2007

The San Francisco Symphony’s Thanksgiving week program is a singularly joyous and virtuosic array. Under the baton of guest conductor Leonard Slatkin, the three performances open with Haydn’s folksy yet concertolike Symphony No. 67 in F Major, followed by Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, featuring Garrick Ohlsson.

More »
Feature Article
November 13, 2007

Is there a body of acknowledged masterpieces more unevenly explored than the Haydn string quartets? It's taken as a given that they're "great music" (the later ones, at least), but what fraction are actually played with any regularity, and how many people know the neglected ones even well enough to judge whether they ought to be neglected?

More »
Feature Article
November 6, 2007

Last summer, the Cabrillo Festival gave the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 8. Glass has been famous since the mid-1970s, but he didn’t write his first symphony until 1992. His symphony project moved along fairly quickly after that, and by 2005, he'd reached number eight. (See SFCV’s review.)

Philip Glass

More »
Feature Article
October 30, 2007

Is there a conspiracy here? After enjoying the mellifluous playing of the Talich String Quartet at the opening concert of Music at Kohl’s silver anniversary season, it’s hard to believe that people aren’t beating down the doors of Burlingame’s Kohl Mansion to get in. Where else in the Bay Area can you hear some of the finest chamber music groups on the planet in such a perfect acoustic?

More »
Feature Article
October 23, 2007

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, is an M.D. and plays a Bechstein. His newest book, Musicophilia, will be published this month by Random House.

More »
Feature Article
October 16, 2007

For more than a decade, New Yorker classical-music critic Alex Ross has been showing readers why music composed in the last century — and last week — matters. Still safely under 40 and a fan of Radiohead, Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and Björk, as well as Aaron Copland and John Adams, Ross has never succumbed to the institutional elitism, insularity, and conservatism that have pushed many potential listeners away.

More »
Feature Article
October 9, 2007

Oakland Opera Theater is one of those refreshing arts organizations that thrives on risk-taking. Not content to restrict its repertory to 20th-century and contemporary works (an idea that would give most managers nightmares), the company brings a distinctive approach to productions both old and new.

More »
Feature Article
October 2, 2007

San Francisco Classical Voice has often reported on how the Bay Area’s smaller opera companies are continuing to grow and to prosper. There are now at least 22 such companies, according to a recent SFCV survey. Beyond budget, casting, and audience development, however, what remains their greatest challenge is the choice of repertory.

More »

Pages