Weekly Magazine




ENSEMBLE MONTEREY’S ‘THREE’S COMPANY’ delivers regional premieres in Carmel and Santa Cruz. ART, the LISTENING PLACE READERS’ THEATER’S award-winning comedy asks ‘is it art or is it a joke?’ Students at Santa Catalina School in Monterey are staging Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of HARPER LEE’S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (above.) VIOLINIST LUCIA LUQUE and pianist Mauro Bertoli perform in Santa Cruz. For more live events click our CALENDAR and/or the display ads, left.


THE 39TH ANNUAL MUSIC TEACHERS ASSN. piano auditions will be held April 9 at the Music Recital Hall at CSU Monterey Bay. The competition is open all young Monterey County piano students in several age divisions. Deadline for applications is March 26. Contact Lyn Bronson at 625-0797, or by email at lbronson@bronsonpianostudio.com for application forms and additional information.

THE CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL has announced a Young Artists Competition during its 2018th season. It will seek young musicians, ages six to 18 years, from the Central Coast Section (CCS) of the California Music Education Assn. (CCS covers Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz Counties.) Competitors will be selected from auditions to be held in mid-March at Pacific Grove Middle School, and will be invited to perform in a Young Artists Showcase Concert on July 21 at the Sunset Center theater.

Chosen to oversee the competition is award-winning local music edPriestucator Barbara Priest (right), founder/director of the Pacific Grove Pops Orchestra, director of instrumental music at Pacific Grove Middle School and a former president of CCS. She has hosted numerous regional student music events and festivals at the PG Performing Arts Center. “The Carmel Bach Festival is providing a spectacular opportunity for local student musicians to perform on an international stage and put dedicated practice to live performance,” said Priest. “I am thrilled to connect talented young soloists and ensembles with the historic Carmel Bach Festival. Young musicians inspire all of us and the Young Artists Competition is the best motivation for musicians of any age to keep practicing. The Young Artists Competition is participation in the future of live classical music.”

CBF MANAGING DIRECTOR Steve Friedlander told me that he and members of his staff had gone over festival activities of the last few years in search of youth-oriented projects in order to bring back some of them and “to focus on young artists who would connect us to the community and to give students some inspirational opportunities.” A community advisory board—“a group of six to 12 music educators, adult amateurs, composers and local musicians”—has been assembled “to raise awareness and develop community engagement,” he said. “I met Barbara because of her participation in that group and was impressed by her professional skills, style, and track record. She gets things done.”

PRIEST grew up in Monterey, graduated from Monterey High School and took degrees in music and education at Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton. She plays a variety of mostly wind instruments and maintains strong connections with teachers, students and families in the four CCS counties. She began her professional career at PG Middle School 13 and half years ago.

Priest told me potential participants in the Showcase Concert will audition live March 17 and 18, and be given immediate feedback by the judges, verbally and in writing. “The final decision will be made by Bach Festival staff.” She also explained that this program “existed before but for some reason it went away.” She said its emphasis will be on the local community. She sees her role as liaison between teachers within the CCS and area music education programs like Youth Music Monterey and Youth Orchestra Salinas, to name just two. She said her discussions with festival staff began last spring and she was offered the position in October. She enthuses, “I’m jumping in now!”


2017 CLASSICAL STATISTICS EYEOPENER  Complaints that Bach doesn’t sell ring false; Mozart, Beethoven and Bach beat out Brahms, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. After them, Haydn got the most performances. Baroque is a non-starter in Austria but huge in Germany. Regardless, and as with most musical arts, the question is not ‘what’ but ‘how.’ Click HERE


CONDUCTOR GUSTAVO DUDAMEL is now persona non grata with Maduro’s Venezuelan regime and the orchestra has bled so many musicians that its tour dates are drying up. Click HERE


ELBPHILHARMONIE in Hamburg (right), which opened in January 2017, is running a revenue surplus instead of a projected deficit. OTHER MAJOR NEW VENUES, below, are also changing the game in Paris, Reykjavik and Wrocław.














FAMED HUNGARIAN MAESTRO Ivan Fischer doesn’t understand why some people think it is so stressful. Click HERE


ELMER BERNSTEIN’S unforgettable main theme for Robert Mulligan’s 1962 Film based on Harper Lee’s masterpiece.









PAPER WING opens Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in Monterey. Click HERE


SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY returns Metropolitan star soprano Michelle Bradley for Richard Strauss’ unforgettable Four Last Songs. JEWEL THEATRE opens Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky.  

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

Claremont Trio


By Scott MacClelland

CLAREMONT TRIO cellist Julia Bruskin told the Saturday audience at Carmel’s Sunset Center that she and her colleagues were delighted to return to the stage here after a nine-year absence. She also explained that her twin sister Emily was on maternity leave HarumiRhodes2015.7and, for the Claremont’s new tour, was replaced by Harumi Rhodes (right), a highly-accomplished chamber musician—a founding member of the award-winning Trio Cavatina—and solo violinist in her own right.

Bruskin’s remarks followed the opening Four Folks Songs of 2012, a Claremont commission, by American composer Gabriela Lena Frank. The 15-minute charmer, in four discrete parts, celebrates equally Frank’s Peruvian-born mother and their mutual cultural heritage that includes the influence on that equatorial South American nation of colonial Spain. Most enchanting were the pizzicato in the clever “Children’s Dance” and the guitar-like strumming in the “Serenata.”

The highlight of the program was Bedřich Smetana’s 28-minute Piano Trio in A Minor, a work of anguish by the young composer written shortly after the death of his four-year-old daughter. The big opening movement is fraught, its forceful development attaining near-hysterical angst. Pianist Andrea Lam led the charge in a deeply-felt reading.

These fine musicians need to step back and rethink Beethoven’s popular “Archduke” Trio, particularly, but not exclusively, the first movement which requires the leadership of a singular vision. For Beethoven’s chamber music with piano that vision starts—and usually remains—at the composer’s instrument. With all three artists intently reading their parts, mismatched phrasing prevented the opening movement from achieving a crisp unanimity of line that can lift the piece to grandeur. To be blunt, these three excellent musicians were not listening to each other.

Meanwhile, among moments that stood out were that dark chromatic wandering that gives rise to inexplicable fugal bits in the scherzo and the broadly arching Andante cantabile with its ennobled theme and variations. Then came the inane final rondo which, thankfully, the composer chose to foreshorten.

This was the first public outing by Claremont of a seven-concert tour program. I’d bet that by Sunday’s performance in Mill Valley their “Archduke” will have come into sharp focus.