Weekly Magazine

Keith Sutter


I CANTORI DI CARMEL introduces Tom Lehmkuhl (see below) in concerts at Carmel Mission. HIDDEN VALLEY STRING ORCHESTRA plays rare works for a ‘transfigured’ season led by concertmaster Roy Malan, in performances in Carmel Valley and Santa Cruz. SMUIN’S CHRISTMAS BALLET (above photo by Keith Sutter) returns to Carmel with new works. A VERY CHERRY CHRISTMAS opens at Carmel’s Cherry Center. Lots of music at UC SANTA CRUZ plus the CABRILLO SYMPHONIC CHORUS at Holy Cross. For links to these and all the other live performance events, click our CALENDAR


OUR PHILIP PEARCE weighs in on A Christmas Carol. Click HERE



EVEN ON THE PHONE, Tom Lehmkuhl, the new conductor of I Cantori di Carmel chorus, projects a deeply sonorous baritone. But unless you’re a chorus member, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear it in musical action. (He was engaged to replace Sal Ferrantelli, longtime and popular leader who retired from the post last spring.) Since 2013 Lehmkuhl has been director of choral music at Carmel High and Middle Schools. Though a native of Walnut Creek, his route to Carmel has been anything but a straight shot. To read more, click HERE


EDITORS DON MILLER AND WALLACE BAINE ARE OUT. Miller is also out as editor of the Monterey Herald. Both papers are owned by Digital First Media. For an alarming explanation, click HERE 



20171110032845-Tree_Antics_smallMOUNTAIN COMMUNITY THEATER’S comedic production runs riot through Dec. 17 at Park Hall in Ben Lomond. The “Holiday Fruitcakes” of MCT push all the seasonal buttons, while sparing neither race, religion, politics nor sexual-orientation in this “Prairie Home Companion”-style entertainment of familiar holiday songs that come with freshly-butchered lyrics. The interactive “Twelve Days of Christmas” is a highlight…or an outrage. Plus no end of shtick in place of the listed Cleveland Castrato Choir, Muslim-American Ramadancers, Cirque du Sleigh and North Piddle & Happy Bottom Panto Players, all staged in the round. The “St Everybody’s Non-Denominational Universalist Church” production features ‘principals’ Karin Babbitt, W Scott Whisler and Jackson Wolffe (pictured) who certainly burn calories in their calisthenic cavitations. A troupe of eight and a band of five add further fuel to the fire. Leave the kids home; come for the laughs. And please accept stage director Kathie Kratochvil’s “Happymerrychristmakwanukkahanzukkah to all!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Actually, I couldn’t have said it at all.) SM


“JOY!” is the name of a circus programPiano & Razz that played five times on the weekend. It included hosting and solo skits—clowning, juggling & bike—by Pino & Razz, two Beal alumni (pictured) and Cirque du Soleil solo artists, (hula hooper) Natasha Kaluza, who wound up keeping 20 hoops going at once, rhythmic gymnast Saki and her dance troupe, Ethiopian foot juggler Etmolagn Hailu Getachew and young Mongolian contortionists Khulan Myagmyagmabsurmen and Huslen Zorgoo. Live music and sound effects were provided by the talented six-member, acapella SoVoSó, inspired by Beal’s collaborations with Bobbie McFerrin. There were audience-interactive bits and Beal herself appeared in the stage-filled starry night scene. Pino (Diane Wasnak) did a crystaline pantomime of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This weekend “JOY!” moves to the smaller Hammer Theatre at San Jose State. Circus at its intimate best! SM


ROWLAND REBELE, major Santa Cruz philanthropist and Symphony supporter weighs in on Daniel Stewart and the Symphony’s all-orchestral program at the Mello reviewed HERE on Nov. 21: Your description of what Danny did with all three pieces last Sunday enlivened them again for me.”   


DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY taken by brain cancer. Click HERE

HVOROSTOVSKY’S THRIUMPH AT THE 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition.








Paul KurodaJOSHUA KOSMAN’S comment in the Chronicle last week on John Adams’ new Girls of the Golden West. Click HERE


REVIVING THE AULOS from ancient Greece. Click HERE


CAMERATA SINGERS OF MONTEREY COUNTY perform in Salinas and Monterey. Much more music from CABRILLO COLLEGE, including Cantiamo!’s “A Concert for a Winter’s Eve” in Carmel and Santa Cruz.

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

Thomas Lehmkuhl

By Scott MacClelland

LehmkuhlEVEN ON THE PHONE, Tom Lehmkuhl, the new conductor of I Cantori di Carmel chorus, projects a deeply sonorous baritone. But unless you’re a chorus member, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear it in musical action.

Since 2013 Lehmkuhl has been director of choral music at Carmel High and Middle Schools. Though a native of Walnut Creek, his route to Carmel has been anything but a straight shot. The youngest of six siblings, his early memories are of having relocated to Malibu where his father, a telephone company executive, acquired a residential parcel on Point Dume. Then it was back to the Walnut Creek suburb of Lafayette and graduation from Acalanes High School. “I didn’t really do music in middle school,” Lehmkuhl explains, though he had studied clarinet in elementary school. “I did sports.” However, Acalanes had a strong music program, including five choirs. Soon Tom auditioned for the “select” groups, and found himself in two of them and then began studying voice and piano. His life’s calling found him “suddenly.” That period of his life turned into an “amazing experience,” and including touring, entering and winning competitions, and finally a scholarship to attend Northwestern University.

As an undergrad at Northwestern (1988- ’89), “I focused on a performing career, on becoming an opera soloist and recitalist.” He then went on to DePaul University in Chicago (’89-’92) where he completed a BM in vocal performance. He continued his studies at the New England Conservatory, where he took an MM degree “cum laude,” and stayed on in the development office admin, “to get health insurance while I was auditioning.”

Lehmkuhl worked in orchestra development in Boston and secured a variety of singing opportunities, including two summers at Tanglewood where, in 1994, he won critical praise in the Boston Globe and New York Times for his performance in a world premiere by the Argentina-born composer Mauricio Kagel. During rehearsals with Seiji Ozawa of Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony he filled in for the opera star Sherrill Milnes. During that time he joined Jerry Slavet and Jennifer Hurley-Wales in launching “From the Top,” the popular NPR variety show hosted by concert pianist Christopher O’Riley. Lehmkuhl did everything from finding talent to moving microphones.

Lehmkuhl worked in the PR office at the Metropolitan Opera and began his high school teaching career in New York in 2001, “at a tough, inner-city, upper East Side” school. Then it was off to India for the first of two teaching positions, at the American Embassy School in New Delhi (2004-2008) then the American School of Bombay in Mumbai (2008-2013) that included touring student productions internationally. An unexpected highlight there was being cast as an opera singer in the multi-Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. “It was ‘right place, right time,’” he says. (Ironically, he is seen lip-synching a tenor aria.)

After teaching choral music and music appreciation for nine years, including having met and married his France-born wife—“She is a tough, interesting woman, a classical Indian dancer and speaks Hindi very well”—and becoming a father, he was ready to return to California. “I did a job search, mostly looking at private schools. My brother urged me to look at public schools in San Luis Obispo. Then I saw a listing for Carmel and somehow made it through the first site interview via Skype, at 1 am here for the time difference,” he says.

With foreknowledge of longtime I Cantori leader Sal Ferrantelli’s plans to retire, Laura Arnow approached Lehmkuhl. “She was very polite, and very persistent,” he recalls. “I was in New York for Christmas.” Then, last spring, he met with John Anderson at Monterey Peninsula College. (I Cantori has long been a class offering at MPC.) Along with three other candidates, Lehmkuhl auditioned for I Cantori by conducting music from Brahms’ German Requiem.

For his first I Cantori concerts, at Carmel Mission, Lehmkuhl will conduct Pergolesi’s Magnificat, Michael Haydn’s “Lauft ihr Hirten allzugleich” and Morten Lauridsen’s Prayer, plus Zikr, a Sufi prayer for peace, and Christmas songs both old and new.

Lehmkuhl calls his arrival here “Serendipity. Carmel was the best offer. And we are near my parents in La Selva Beach.” Apparently, serendipity comes in pairs. Just ask the members of I Cantori.