Weekly Magazine

Ammon’s rollicking Madness, Rack, and Honey. photo by Chris Hardy

NEW THIS WEEK

WATCH BERNSTEIN’S MASS ON KQET

THE RAVINIA FESTIVAL’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s musical setting, starring Tony Award-winning baritone Paulo Szot and featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra artistic director Marin Alsop conducts. Friday, May 15, 8pm; Saturday, May 16, 3pm; KQET serves the Monterey Bay Area on Channel 25. Click HERE

WEDNESDAY’S DANCE FROM SMUIN ARCHIVE

SMUIN CONTEMPORARY BALLET offers a free streaming of Garrett Ammon’s rollicking Madness, Rack, and Honey in this week’s installment of its Hump Day Ballets series. Known for his ability to “stir things up [and] blend tradition with adventurous new ideas,” Ammon fuses his passion for dance and poetry in this ambitious and distinctively quirky ballet. Madness, Rack, and Honey will be offered beginning Wednesday, May 13, with by a video introduction by former Smuin dancer Benjamin Warner, whose performance “mixing art, grace and comedy” was highly lauded in the world premiere of the piece in September 2016. The recorded performance will be available for 48 hours only, with streaming instructions announced through Smuin’s email list (sign up smuinballet.org) or via Smuin’s Facebook (facebook.com/SmuinBallet) and Instagram instagram.com/smuinballet.

SF OPERA STREAM THIS SATURDAY, 10 AM

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA’s production of Bellini’s The Capulets and the Montagues, starring Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell, directed by Frank Zamacona. You’ve never seen Romeo and Juliet like this. To watch and listen, click HERE

SOME REGIONAL PERFORMERS… 

HAVE PROVIDED links to their archives. However several announce them only a day or two in advance. Meanwhile, here is a rarity from Espressivo: Music for Small Orchestra composed in 1926 by Ruth Crawford Seeger, recorded October 18, 2019, Peace United Church, Santa Cruz. Michel Singher conductor.

 

SAN DIEGO COMPOSER WINS 2020 PULITZER

UC SAN DIEGO composer Anthony Davis writes operas about conflict and clash. He just won the Pulitzer in Music for his opera The Central Park Five. Donald Trump is a character in it calling for the death penalty. Click HERE

 

MICHAEL R JACKSON WINS DRAMA PULITZER

PLAYWRIGHT’s musical A Strange Loop, “a discursive meta-tale about a young, gay, black musical theater writer, who’s writing a musical about a young, gay, black musical theater writer, and so on down the rabbit hole.” Click HERE

ANOTHER CONSTANT READER

I LOVE READING the PAMB Weekly Magazine! I always find something of interest in it, eg., the almost hour-long program about Joshua Bell performing in Cuba. Also, I have shared it with friends interested in classical music back East. A really good resource!! ~Nick Royal, Santa Cruz

HOMEBOUND ARTISTS ARE WORKING

COMPOSER HENRY MOLLICONE is currently completing the orchestration of a concerto for SF Bay Area horn player Brian Holmes.

OPEN LETTER TO MAX BRAGADO-DARMAN

DEAR MAX, This coming weekend was supposed to provide you the opportunity to ‘put paid’ to your long tenure here as music director of the Monterey Symphony—alas denied you and your many fans in Monterey County due to COVID-19. In fact, there’s no telling when your orchestra will actually return to the symphonic repertoire, old and new, even as the Symphony still hopes to begin its 2020-21 season with the four candidates for your post starting this fall. During your fifteen years with the Monterey Symphony, it has been my pleasure and honor to have offered Performing Arts Monterey Bay readers with reportage, commentary and criticism of your performances and interpretations of great classical music across some three centuries. (I specially regret not hearing the Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler that you selected for your farewell.) If I have been in any way perceptive of your time in Monterey, it has been to record as best I know how the dynamics of your relationship with your musicians, guest artists and audiences. In so doing, I have sought to provide accurate, detailed reporting, sufficient background and context to your programming, and rigorous intellectual discipline for the benefit of those readers and subscribers to PAMB who share those values. I have also tried to provide our readers with insights into the conductor’s art and craft. I have taken this task seriously. Lastly, I want to thank you for aiming for the highest standards and delivering to your chosen successor an orchestra with the highest possible discipline. I realize my views on criticism are not always shared. But I have never forgotten that without people like you, people like me wouldn’t have much to do. SM

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE

IN A LAND where laughing and loving is forbidden, a nameless Stranger had come to spread his message of joy and light among the people. The Ruler ordered his arrest and immediate trial, and the death sentence himself. Left alone, the Stranger is soon attended by a woman, Heliane, the wife of The Ruler, who is sexually impotent. She is entranced by The Stranger and succumbs to his appeal to her hair, her feet and finally her naked body. Though her love—and stark nakedness—are not carnal, she is made to stand trial for adultery. In the trial she ‘confesses’ to all this in the opera’s famously ecstatic aria, “Ich ging zu ihn,” ending with the words “Now kill me.” (See and hear it as sung by Lotte Lehmann, below.) To save her, The Stranger stabs himself to death. The “miracle” takes place in the third act where Heliane seeks to resurrect to life the dead Stranger. Based on a mystery play, Die Heilige, by the short-lived Hans Kaltneker, and despite an uneven allegorical libretto by Hans Müller-Einigen, Korngold’s music is sensational, yearning, extravagant, calling for a huge orchestra with chorus, and both chromatic and rhythmically challenging. Korngold regarded Das Wunder der Heliane (The Miracle of Heliane) as his greatest work, but the opera has been neglected since its premiere in 1927. This 2018 production from the Deutsche Oper Berlin features the American soprano Sara Jakubiak as Heliane and the American tenor Brian Jagde as The Stranger in director Christof Loy’s acclaimed staging. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin deliver the large forces required for this hyper-Romantic opera, under the baton of Marc Albrecht. The opera’s neglect began almost immediately when romantic allegories simply felt out of touch to a war-weary world. Ernst Krenek’s snarky, jazzy Jonny spielt auf (Johnny Steps Out) of 1927 and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, 1928, became instant hits at the expense of such gushing romanticism. In this recent DVD/BluRay release, the stage set and lighting create the atmosphere of courtroom, which serves the production well by not trying to gild the Korngold lily. The opera first came to my attention in the Decca CD recording conducted by John Mauceri for Decca’s Entartete Musik (‘degenerate music’ banned by the Nazis) series and released in 1993. At last having an opportunity to see this remarkable work is most welcome and for many will come as a complete–even shocking–surprise. SM

 

FIRST BLACK COUNTRY MUSIC STAR

FROM KEN BURNS’ COUNTRY MUSIC series, one might get the impression that Charley Pride was the first successful Afro-American black country artist. Meanwhile, DeFord Bailey’s harmonica as freight train flawlessly added ‘lonely.’ His story is told by Deana Bianco. Click HERE

INDESTRUCTIBLE BRAHMS

JUNO Award nominated Ron Davis’ brilliant SymphRONica, the internationally celebrated electric/acoustic jazz/pop/string group, plays Ron’s composition “Brahms for JB” as arranged by Louis Simão. The piece is a jazz tribute to Johannes Brahms and his third Symphony. From the record “Instrumental Music Liberation Front.” Ron Davis, piano, leader; Kevin Barrett, guitar, SymphRONica Music Director; Mike Downes, bass; Steve Heathcote, drums; Brielle Goheen, violin; Jeremy Potts, violin; Sebastian Ostertag, cello; Laurence Schaufele, viola; Louis Simão, accordion. From Toronto, February 2020.

 

LAST WEEK’S LYNN HARRELL ENCORE

IT’S En la paz by Salvador Candel.

LITTLE RICHARD, 1932-2020

CAN’T imagine rock ‘n’ roll without him

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

CINCO DE MAYO CELEBRATION: Maybe next year?

NEW THIS WEEK

CANCELED: Carmel’s Outdoor Forest Theater’s summer family musicals, Annie and Shrek, shut down due to COVID-19. With luck Annie might be staged in October. MUSIC@MENLO, the nationally acclaimed chamber music festival in Atherton and Menlo Park, has reluctantly decided to postpone their 2020 series, Haydn Connections, until 2021. That leaves only the MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL still on the calendar for this summer.

MICHA SCOTT WILL DANCE FOR YOU

TANNERY WORLD DANCE & CULTURAL CENTER in Santa Cruz invites you to a no-cost live dance viewing experience, featuring Santa Cruz luminary and TWDCC Artistic Director Micha Scott in a new solo work that will address collective experience in this age of separation. It’s a Virtual Theater Premiere. Click HERE

FIRE & GRACE TO LIVESTREAM ON SUNDAY

FROM FOLKTALE WINERY, violinist Edwin Huizinga and guitarist William Coulter will send a musical Mother’s Day greeting starting at 3pm via Facebook and YouTube. Click HERE

CELLIST LYNN HARRELL, 1944-2020

UNIVERSALLY ACCLAIMED concert and recording artist, he performed for the Carmel Music Society in 2006, 2011 and 2012, the latter two with pianist Jon Kimura Parker. Here he performs with Victor Asuncion. (Answer to the mystery next week.)

 

ANNE-MARIE McDERMOTT ON TO SANTA FE

WELL KNOWN classical pianist, a regular performer for Carmel Music Society, has been Santa Fe Pro Musica’s first new Artistic Director since the organization was co-founded by the eminent woodwind musicians Tom O’Connor and Carol Redman in 1980. Over the coming two seasons, McDermott will transition into her new role overseeing the Pro Musica Orchestra and String Works Series while O’Connor prepares to step down from his post as Music Director. The Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble will continue to be led by co-founder Carol Redman. McDermott is a renowned international performer, balancing an eclectic career as a pianist, chamber musician, and artistic director of several festivals, including the Bravo! Vail Music Festival in Colorado (2011-present). Over the past five years, McDermott has performed with Pro Musica on numerous occasions.

THIS WEEK’S OFFERING FROM SMUIN BALLET

HELEN PICKETT’s highly-acclaimed ballet Oasis, an ode to the powerful transformative ability of water, is the next installment of its Hump Day Ballets series. This Smuin World Premiere set to a soaring original score by Emmy Award-winning “House of Cards” composer Jeff Beal was called “Impeccable. Stirring and gorgeously dispatched” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Oasis will be offered beginning Wednesday, May 6. The release will be accompanied by a video introduction by former Smuin dancer Erica Felsch, who performed in the world premiere of Oasis in May 2016. The recorded performance will be available for 48 hours only, with streaming instructions announced through Smuin’s email list (sign up at smuinballet.org), or via Smuin’s Facebook (facebook.com/SmuinBallet) and Instagram (instagram.com/smuinballet). For more information click HERE

WHY WE LIKE YMM

YOUTH MUSIC MONTEREY and Music Director Danko Druško send hope and joy. And today (Tuesday) they are asking for your help to achieve their current $50k fundraiser. Click HERE

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

FROM THE LOOK of Thierry Fischer’s recorded catalog as the Utah Symphony’s music director, Utah has had a long term love affair with French music. In his Utah tenure (2009-2022) he has recorded all five symphonies by Camille Saint-Saens in three individual CDs. (Recently we reviewed his new Berlioz Symphonie fantastique.) Most classical fans of the French orchestral repertoire will be familiar with Saint-Saëns Third Symphony “Organ” but may be unaware of the four others, including the “Urbs Roma” symphony and the Symphony No 2, which we reviewed in May 2019. This newest and last in that series includes the Symphony in A, which the composer wrote at the age of 15, and the Symphony No 1 in E-flat, which was written just three years later. They will appeal to anyone interested in how the precocious youngster began his long compositional career. He made his performance debut at age 10 and died at age 86 in 1921, the longest concert career on record and well into the era of 12-tone chromaticism and such avant-gardistes as Stravinsky, Satie and Ravel. By the time of his death his reputation had largely faded even though many of his best works continue to enjoy favor, including the concertos for piano, violin and cello, and such chestnuts as Danse macabre and Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, the opera Samson et Dalila, and the irrepressibly witty “Carnival of the Animals” of 1886 which is also contained on this new CD. Even from his adolescent symphonies, referred to above, it is clear that Saint-Saëns combined rigorous formal discipline with startlingly expressive ideas, in other words a solid foundation on which he continued to build throughout his life. Fischer and the Utah Symphony make the best of this music. For “Carnival of the Animals” they are joined by Jason Hardink and Kimi Kawashima. Fischer has done a great deal of American music in Utah and his French rep includes CDs of Francaix, d’Indy, Honegger, Poulenc, Schmitt and Widor. SM

SEASONS OF CUBA

WITH Joshua Bell and the Chamber Orchestra of Havana

 

THE LOST PIANOS OF SIBERIA

LOU FANCHER reviews for San Francisco Classical Voice. Click HERE

CLASSICAL MUSIC ENDINGS? TOO LONG? TOO SHORT?

INCONCLUSIVE? Weak ones include Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto No 2. Purposely sneaky ones are Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and Sibelius’ Pohjola’s Daughter.

DUDLEY MOORE’S ANSWER

 

MONTEREY ARTS COUNCIL UPDATE

COMMUNITY ARTS GRANTS are available to small nonprofit organizations in Monterey County seeking support for public arts and culture projects/programs up to $5,000 per year. No deadline—grants are reviewed on a monthly basis. Organizations may only receive one grant per year and must have completed their previous grant’s final report before submitting a new application. NO DEADLINE; until funds are expended. For more information click HERE

ATHEISTS DON’T HAVE NO SONGS

STEVE MARTIN and the Steep Canyon Rangers

 

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor