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
April 15, 2008

It’s not that unusual, not anymore, for a ballet company to commission a dance from a modern choreographer. But in the case of Margaret Jenkins, the renowned dancemaker whose eponymous modern company has dwelt cheek-by-jowl with the San Francisco Ballet for the last 38 years, Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s invitation to work with his troupe is something of a landmark moment.

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Feature Article
April 8, 2008

Kate Royal is on the move. The soprano, who comes to Cal Performances April 13 as part of her first U.S. recital tour, is getting a serious taste of life on the road. Our first attempt at a phone interview hits a glitch — due to a scheduling change. It turns out that she’s on a plane, instead of in New York, at the appointed time. The next morning, I catch up with her in Vermont; later that evening, she explains, she’s singing at Middlebury College.

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Kids & Families Feature
April 1, 2008

When András Schiff comes to San Francisco Performances to present another pair of concerts in his traversal of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas, he'll be in good company. Sooner or later, pianists are drawn to the mountain and they have to climb it, some more than once.

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Feature Article
March 25, 2008

Like freelancers in other fields — journalism comes to mind — Laura Jackson, one of the six finalists in the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra’s search for a music director to succeed Kent Nagano, flies in, forges bonds, does her job, and moves on. What she’d like to do is find a place where she can stay.

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Feature Article
March 18, 2008

Editor’s note: Opera and the Morbidity of Music, the collected commentaries for The New York Review of Books by noted critic and UC Berkeley music professor emeritus Joseph Kerman, will be published next month. This appreciation appeared in The Review in 1981, four years after the death of Maria Callas. That it is as relevant now as then speaks eloquently to Kerman’s overall premise that reports of the demise of classical music have been greatly exaggerated.

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Feature Article
March 11, 2008

If Pauline Viardot hadn’t actually lived, some opera composer might have invented her. The life of the 19th-century French singer-composer is the stuff of drama, and nearly a century after her death, she remains one of the more intriguing figures of European musical history.

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Kids & Families Feature
March 4, 2008

The new pipe organ at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco is making itself known among organ aficionados in the Bay Area. Not only is it beautiful to look at, with an outer case and carvings in black walnut, but it has a beautiful sound, as well. It was dedicated on March 25, 2007, and the congregation and concertgoers have spent the past year discovering just what it can do.

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Feature Article
February 26, 2008

Editor's Note: The new book Artists in Exile, written by the noted music critic and lecturer Joseph Horowitz, analyzes the ways in which émigré artists made an impact on American culture and were in turn influenced by it.

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Feature Article
February 19, 2008

Ed Sullivan, it is said, had a surefire method for putting together a successful show: Open big, schedule a good comedy act, put in something for children, and keep it clean. If only planning a symphony season were that easy. Sticking to Sullivan’s formula, a symphony would need to start each concert with something like Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, move on to a piece by, say, Offenbach, add Peter and the Wolf, and avoid anything dissonant.

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Feature Article
February 12, 2008

What would happen if you took the “postmodern” project to its logical conclusion and eradicated the theoretical, conceptual, and practical boundaries between large genres of music like, say, classical, jazz, popular, sound experiments, and electronic composition? That’s a major proposition that drives the leading edge, or bleeding edge (to use a technology term) of contemporary music.

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