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
October 21, 2008

St. Martin de Porres is a small parochial school in North Oakland. It is named for a 17th-century Dominican brother from Peru who was famous for establishing orphanages and children’s hospitals. He was canonized in 1962.

St. Martin’s has some 200 “students of color,” fully 90 percent of them on financial assistance, and as many qualifying for a free or reduced-cost lunch. But the school had no music program whatsoever.

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Feature Article
October 21, 2008

St. Martin de Porres is a small parochial school in North Oakland. It is named for a 17th-century Dominican brother from Peru who was famous for establishing orphanages and children's hospitals. He was canonized in 1962. St. Martin's has some 200 "students of color," fully 90 percent of them on financial assistance, and as many qualifying for a free or reduced-cost lunch. But the school had no music program whatsoever. That's the kind of situation that a contemporary Venezuelan secular saint, José Antonio Abreu, was driven to change.

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Feature Article
October 14, 2008

We tend to think of composers in groups, whether by era, country, school, or style. Meredith Monk, however, has always stood apart from the crowd. Now nearly half a century into her career, this extraordinarily wide-ranging artist continues to occupy a singular space in contemporary music.

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Feature Article
October 7, 2008

The Bay Area must be one of the few places where fledgling classical music presenters can find support in an already teeming marketplace. Now you can add another newcomer to the list of those you’ve heard of: Live at Mission Blue, a relatively young chamber music series, which opens its fifth season this Saturday evening. The concerts take place in the Mission Blue Center, perched high in the city of Brisbane's San Bruno Hills, a 15-minute drive from downtown San Francisco.

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Feature Article
September 30, 2008

On Saturday, October 4, at Herbst Theatre, Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will mark the beginning of a "Remembrance Concert Tour". She will be joined by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Anne Manson. The tour, sponsored by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, will visit six cities in the U.S. and Canada, concluding with a concert at Carnegie Hall on October 20.

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Feature Article
September 23, 2008

Is it like this for you? You go to the market. A Whitney Houston clone is on the Muzak — again. You want to scream. Do you feel the same way when you go to the symphony and discover Brahms' Second, Dvořák's "New World," or Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto on the program? If so, there's hope for you — if you move to north Phoenix. But more about that later.

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Feature Article
September 16, 2008

If you're a dead white male composer, you probably envy Leonard Bernstein. It used to be that full-career retrospectives were reserved for major anniversaries, but New York City's cultural institutions stage one every 10 years in Bernstein's honor. In 1998, the Lincoln Center Festival produced one. This fall, in honor of the 90th anniversary of the musician's birth, and the 50th of his appointment as music director of the New York Philharmonic, the orchestra and Carnegie Hall are collaborating on another traversal of Bernstein's compositional achievement.

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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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