Weekly Magazine

CROSSPULSE PLAYS FOR SCHOOL KIDS

THE MELLO FILLED UP with Watsonville elementary school kids last Thursday. Sponsored by Tandy Beal & Company—who have a huge dance program in Monterey County schools—Keith Terry’s Crosspulse (above) teaches interactive body percussion in rhythmic patterns, all inspired by the African diaspora. That also includes beatboxing, the art of using the mouth to imitate a complete drum set, with thanks to Bobby McFerrin and hip-hop. At the end of the session questions were encouraged. A few of us in the back of the room got a laugh when we heard one second grader ask, “When is this thing gonna be over?”

THIS WEEK

JEWEL THEATRE opens its new production of Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code, a stage work about the life of Alan Turing, memorably told in the 2014 film The Imitation Game. PIANIST WU HAN returns to Carmel to perform Tchaikovsky’s The Months (AKA The Seasons) and Schubert’s last piano sonata. GERMAN ORGAN MUSIC in the time of Bach continues the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival season. GOLDEN GATE CHAMBER PLAYERS return to Hidden Valley. JAZZ SINGER Roberta Gambarini comes to Kuumbwa. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events, click on the display ads, left, or on our CALENDAR

PERFORMING ARTS PEOPLE

HENRY MOLLICONE, COMPOSER

By Scott MacClelland

THIS WEEKEND, the Los Angeles Opera will stage the premiere of Henry Mollicone’s new opera, Moses, with performances at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The production is a gift to the citizens of LA, the brainchild of LAO music director James Conlon, who will conduct the orchestra and chorus—that combines accomplished area amateurs with professionals—and solo voices, a massive contingent to dazzle the 3,000 capacity cathedral. Mollicone told me in a recent phone chat that fans and friends will be coming to LA from all over the country. 

Mollicone is no stranger to the Monterey Bay. His “Beatitude” Mass, composed to raise money for the homeless, was sung last season in Salinas and Monterey. Several of his works, including premieres, were performed by the Santa Cruz Symphony when Larry Granger was its music director. To read more, click HERE

AMERICAN COMPOSER FLORENCE PRICE, 1887-1953

NEW YORKER music critic Alex Ross recently wrote enthusiastically about Price’s Third Symphony, composed in 1940. Frederick Stock, music director of the Chicago Symphony for 37 years, championed her music. Click HERE   Ross refers to the symphony’s East Coast premiere by the Yale Symphony, and, below, her Mississippi Suite of 1934.

 

“REAL EDGY THEATRE”

THAT’S HOW one Monterey theater company describes themselves. We might take another look when they choose to stage Jeremy O Harris’ Daddy. Click HERE   

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD WINS INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN CONTEST

HIMARI YOSHIMURA sweeps the Grumiaux Competition in Brussels.

 

THE LAST SORCERER

150 YEARS AGO, the great mezzo-soprano, composer, and pedagogue Pauline García Viardot created the salon opera Le dernier sorcier (The Last Sorcerer) in collaboration with the acclaimed Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev. The piece centered on themes of power and progress, gender and equality, and the restoration of natural order in an ever-changing world, Pauline García Viardot is perhaps the most famous Romantic heroine you’ve never heard of. She was born in Paris to Spanish parents, the tenor-cum-impresario Manuel García and the soprano Joaquina Sitchez. Viardot’s circle was a who’s who of nineteenth-century European artistic society: she studied piano with Liszt, co-authored mazurkas with Chopin, sang Tristan and Isolde excerpts with Wagner in her living room, had Charles Dickens and Henry James as house guests, and shared insights with her best friend George Sand. At the age of seventeen, Pauline created the role of Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello in London to great acclaim, and went on to create roles for many leading composers of the day, including Meyerbeer, Gounod, Berlioz, and Saint-Saëns, who dedicated his Samson et Dalila to her.

In 1843, Viardot began traveling regularly to perform in Saint Petersburg, where she met the great Russian man of letters Ivan Turgenev, who fell passionately in love with her mesmerizing voice, quick wit, and depth of spirit, and returned with her to Paris, where they shared their lives and families for the four decades that followed. They collaborated on several works for the stage, including Le dernier sorcier.

A chamber opera in two acts, Le dernier sorcier revolves around Krakamiche, a once-powerful sorcerer whose presence in the great woods has upset the fairies, the forest’s rightful inhabitants, and disturbed the harmony of the land. Through the combined efforts of the fairy folk and their queen, the sorcerer’s daughter and her prince, and a hapless valet, Krakamiche ultimately learns key truths about humility, love, and living in harmony with the natural world. At the work’s premiere in 1867 at Turgenev’s villa in Baden-Baden, Viardot played the piano (the sole instrument in the original score) and the roles were sung by her children and students. The audience consisted of leading figures of the day, including Liszt, Brahms, Clara Schumann, Hermann Levi (the Jewish conductor who Wagner defended) and  Kaiser Wilhelm I, who hailed the piece as a treasure.

Viardot’s original manuscript, scored for solo voices, treble chorus, and piano, was held in a private collection for over a century, and as such, the work essentially vanished. Recently, the original piano-vocal score was acquired by Harvard University’s Houghton Library, which has granted permission to produce this world premiere recording.

THE IMMORTAL BILL EVANS, 1929-1980

 

FRESH REVIEWS

DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS’ Schubertiade; MUSA CHINESE BAROQUE in Aptos; JUNG-HO PAK conducts the Monterey Symphony. Click HERE

FOUR OLD BROADS at Mountain Community Theater, click HERE

NEXT WEEK

ESPRESSIVO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA in Santa Cruz. BIG SUR FIDDLE CAMP at Hidden Valley. PIANIST ALEXEY TRUSHECHKIN at Aptos Keyboard Series. NEW MUSIC concert at Cabrillo College. 

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

DISTINGUSHED ARTISTS SERIES presents a Schubertiade, a recreation of an evening with the composer and friends in early 19th century Vienna. MONTEREY SYMPHONY welcomes guest conductor Jung-Ho Pak to the podium for a program of regional premieres. (See below.) SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS welcome the return of MUSA Chinese Baroque, featuring music of that era from China. BASS-BARITONE CHRISTIAN PURSELL sings to benefit vocal music at Cabrillo College on Sunday. 33RD ANNUAL SANTA CRUZ JAZZ FESTIVAL at Cabrillo College. FOUR OLD BROADS opens West Coast premiere at Mountain Community. LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO (above) returns to Santa Cruz. MASTERS OF SOUL at World Theater in Seaside. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events, click on the display ads, left, or on our CALENDAR

CABRILLO FESTIVAL 2019 ANNOUNCED

CRISTIAN MĂCELARU’S third season emphasizes women artists and composers. Programs include three World Premiere original commissions: Kristen Kuster’s When There are Nine, an homage to Ruth Bader Ginsberg featuring Room Full of Teeth vocal ensemble, Clarice Assad’s New Interactive Educational Work and Preben Antonsen’s Psalm Without Words. In addition are two US premieres, eight West Coast premieres and twelve composers-in-residence. The August 11 concert consists of two major works by Wynton Marsalis, his Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Nicola Benedetti, and Blues Symphony, with the composer in attendance. For complete Festival details, click HERE    

JUNG-HO PAK TO MAKE MONTEREY SYMPHONY DEBUT

THE LOCAL RESIDENT with an international conducting career makes his long-anticipated debut appearance this weekend in a program of local premieres. Continuing the Symphony’s ocean-themed “Sound Waves” season, Pak will begin by conducting And God created great whales by Alan Hovhaness, a “conceptual” piece that combines the natural songs of humpback whales with orchestra. (Pak cites Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Cantus Articus with its bird songs as another example of combining the sounds of nature with composed music.)

Also with the sounds of oceanic mammals, Pak has included Stella Sung’s Oceana, a short concert work about ocean ecology that underscores the destructive noise pollution of the oceans, from military and industrial activities, that disorients the great mammals of the sea. As a response to Sung’s music, videographer Annie Crawley created an undersea video that will be screened with the music. Pak says both Sung and Crawley will be in attendance, and oceanographer John Ryan from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will join him on stage for the pre-concert lectures one hour before the Saturday and Sunday performances.

Pak has performed Tan Dun’s Water Concerto many times; this production will feature percussionist Christopher S Lamb, who premiered the piece in 1998 in New York. “Tan Dun is the at the forefront of ethnomusicological work, and the most successful,” Pak says. “You can almost hear the orchestra speaking Chinese. He elevates the simplest and most universal—water—to the highest degree.” Two percussionists of the Symphony will join Lamb to either side with bowls of water lit from the bottom. “It feels like you’re watching a ceremony, a Japanese tea service, something holy.” The composer dedicated the 25-minute work to Toru Takemitsu, the greatest Japanese composer of the latter 20th century.

Pak’s program concludes with Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony of 1945, a work that nominally celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II at unfathomable cost in lives but turns out to be a sarcastic joke. In 1946, a critical article by musicologist Izrail Nestyev was published: “What remains to be proposed is that the Ninth Symphony is a kind of respite, a light and amusing interlude between Shostakovich’s significant creations, a temporary rejection of great, serious problems for the sake of playful, filigree-trimmed trifles. But is it the right time for a great artist to go on vacation, to take a break from contemporary problems?” That is exactly what Shostakovich predicted and exactly what he had taken upon his shoulders: to speak truth to power through music. SM

SUNSET CENTER SEEKS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

FOR DETAILS, click HERE  

HAPPY 75TH DAME KIRI

KIRI TE KANAWA was born Claire Mary Teresa Rawstron in the small New Zealand seaside town of Gisborne. The birth child of a native Maori man and a woman of European descent was adopted at five weeks of age by a local couple, Tom and Nell Te Kanawa, he a Maori and she with family ties to the British Isles. (Georg Solti at the piano.)

 

STEEL AND STRINGS

REVIVING THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA’S GLORY. Conductor Franz Welser-Möst has led the way, not without controversy. Click HERE  

REMEMBERING JACQUES LOUSSIER, 1934-2019

CONSERVATORY-TRAINED musician caused a sensation in 1959 when he established a trio with the string bass player Pierre Michelot and the drummer Christian Garros and recorded his sophisticated jazzed-up interpretations of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

HOW PASSIVE LISTENING TO MUSIC IMPAIRS CREATIVITY

BACKGROUND MUSIC dulls the senses. Click HERE   

KENNY RANKIN, 1940-2009

TEN YEARS ON, taken too soon.

 

NEXT WEEK

JEWEL THEATRE opens Breaking the Code at the Colligan. PIANIST WU HAN plays Tchaikovsky and Schubert in Carmel. ARIA presents ‘She Sings’ in Monterey. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FEST hosts an organ recital at Peace United. SC CHORALE hosts Cantabella Children’s Chorus from Pleasanton. GOLDEN GATE CHAMBER PLAYERS at Hidden Valley. PG POPS ORCHESTRA in Pacific Grove. BAY BELLES in Carmel.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor