Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

CABRILLO FESTIVAL takes over Santa Cruz Civic with 17 composers (most of them above) in residence and wall-to-wall new music. JAZZ SINGER KIM NALLEY at Kuumbwa. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET opens in Carmel. David Ives’ VENUS IN FUR opens August 7 at SC Shakespeare. For links to these and other live performance events, click our CALENDAR or on the ads, left.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICK YRAMATEGUI

CARMEL VALLEY composer/pianist notched another on Saturday. Youth Music Monterey grad Kim Kistler is attending the University of British Columbia this fall.

PHOENIX NEEDS YOU

A PLUM JOB as executive director who is willing to tolerate high temps and Mexican monsoons over the high cost of living here. Click HERE   

KENNEDY CENTER 2018 AWARDS ANNOUNCED

THE JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER for the Performing Arts has announced the selection of four Honorees who will receive the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements, and a special Honors distinction for a work of art and its co-creators. Recipients to be honored at the 41st annual national celebration of the arts are: singer and actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, Country music entertainer Reba McEntire, and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. This year, the co-creators of Hamilton—writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire—will receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.   

SEXUAL PREDATORS IN CLASSICAL MUSIC

SHOCKINGINGLY BROADER AND DEEPER than recent reports suggest. Will it ever end? Click HERE   

UBIQUITOUS MUSICIAN GLEN ROVEN DIES

COMPOSER/COUNDUCTOR/PRODUCER to the stars succumbed following a coma at age 60. Click HERE   

SHOSTAKOVICH PREMIERE IN MENLO PARK

VIOLIST PAUL NEUBAUER and pianist Wu Han played the West Coast premiere of a just-discovered Shostakovich ‘impromptu’ at the 2018 Music@Menlo festival.

 THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, words and music by Marc Blitzstein, gave me two shocks. In this indispensable new recording that uses the original orchestration—recorded before a live audience at Opera Saratoga in New York—the first was the unmistakable impact it had on Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The second was that this opera/theater piece, composed in the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s, has unmistakable parallels with the current political, economic, social and racial distortions in today’s America. Premiered in 1937, produced by Robert Houseman and directed by Orson Welles, its original production was shut down by Congressional conservatives (they had funded it under the Federal Theatre Project) forcing relocation to another theater where it was performed by Blitzstein on a solo piano with some cast members singing their parts, not from the stage but in the audience. The plot is an allegory about America during the depression and an indictment of unregulated capitalism, with archetypal characters inhabiting the fictional Steeltown USA, run by the tyrannical Mr. Mister and his Liberty Committee. The touchy subject of unionization is also prominent, with the predictably polarizing reaction. Blitzstein captured the ‘Berlin sound’ of Kurt Weill—indeed, he translated Bertolt Brecht’s libretto into English for that parody. In the very first scene of Cradle, you hear the template for the angry confrontation between Maria and Anita after Tony kills Nardo in West Side Story; Cradle also impacts that show’s memorable songs. (You hear the Blitzstein sound in other Bernstein works as well, including the score for the film On the Waterfront.) In Opera Saratoga’s production, singing actors are plainly preferred to opera-trained voices. John Mauceri, the polymath conductor of rare but important works, adds this comment, “Without a single updated text change, and maintaining the story in the late 1930s, we all knew this tale of nepotism, bribery, violence, prostitution on every level, fear of change, the manipulation of news, the suspicion of immigrants, and the buying and selling of the middle-class, were not things of the past. All we had to do was perform it as it was written.”  The performance time of Cradle is 97 intense minutes; it should go on the road. SM

Here, Blitzstein describes the origins of his pioneering ‘opera.’

PEGLEG TAP DANCER

EVAN RUGGIERO overcame a devastating amputation.

FRESH REVIEWS

ROMEO & JULIET in Santa Cruz; THE FANTASTICKS in Monterey; THE PRODUCERS in Aptos. Click HERE

CHOREOGRAPHERS SHOWCASE at SpectorDance. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

CABRILLO FEST continues at Santa Cruz Civic. CELLIST MARK KOSOWER comes to Hidden Valley. HAIR grows at The Western Stage.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

CABRILLO FEST’S first concert, “In the Works,” on July 31. SPECTORDANCE in Marina hosts summer Choreographers Showcase (above, Meghan Horowitz choreography). PARIS COMBO coming to Kuumbwa. THE FANTASTICKS opens at MPC. THE PRODUCERS takes the Cabrillo Stage. SWEET JAZZ @ EMBASSY monthly jazz jam in Seaside. For links to these and other live performance events, click our CALENDAR 

FALL EVENTS AT UC SANTA CRUZ

CAMPUS CALENDAR, beginning to fill up, includes the Kyma International Sound Symposium, Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw, Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour and pianist/storyteller Nathan Carterette.

YOU PROBABLY SPEAK FOSSIL

WHEN WORDS go extinct before memories do. Click HERE  

HOW DEATH DREW SHAKESPEARE INTO SCIENCE

NEW SCHOLARSHIP raises new questions. Click HERE  

HOW SCIENCE IS SAVING TODAY’S DANCERS

NEW TECHNIQUES are protecting limbs and joints. Click HERE  

90TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RED POPPY

POPULAR SOVIET BALLET sparked a row with the Chinese. Eveline Chao spells it out. Photo, right, by Marc Haegeman. Click HERE  

À CHLORIS

GRAMMY-WINNING mezzo-soprano Susan Graham speaks about the power of music, and sings Reynaldo Hahn’s À Chloris with composer Jake Heggie at the piano. This performance is from the 2013 Sing With Haiti Gala Benefit Concert at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Sing With Haiti raised funds to support and rebuild the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

THE INTERTRAGIC NOTCH

A SENSATIONIAL new CD conducted by Santa Cruzan Rebecca Miller of music by Aaron Jay Kernis features two major concertos, the two-movement Dreamsongs for cello and chamber orchestra, that was composed and premiered in 2013, and the three-movement Viola Concerto of 2013-14. Joshua Roman is the cellist (apparently the only one to play the piece so far) with the Royal Northern Orchestra, recorded at Gateshead. Paul Neubauer is viola soloist. Kernis describes the first movement of the cello concerto, Floating Dreamsongs, as “mostly slow and airy” and “continuously developing variations.” Tremolos on marimba and vibraphone make his colorful orchestration more exotic. The second movement, Kora Song, uses abundant pizzicato and strummed chords in imitation of the well-known West African gourd lute that sounds similar to a harp. Both movements are energetic, the second more than the first with mini-cadenzas for the cello. The Viola Concerto’s movements are titled Braid, Romance and, at more than twice as long as the other two together, A Song My Mother Taught Me. If anything, the concerto is even more fiercely virtuosic than Dreamsongs. In it Kernis uses both the Yiddish folksong Tumbalalaika and a melody from a piano piece by Schumann, each of which is also added to the playlist separately, providing a frame of reference. With pizzicato from both hands, the piece climaxes in “a Jimi Hendrix-style freakout.” The other work on the CD is Concerto with Echoes of 2009, that uses JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 as a template. Kernis accesses an amazingly eclectic range of styles but always with distinctive neo-Romantic sense of melody and harmony. Highly recommended. SM     

NEW FROM VADYM KHOLODENKO

THE VAN CLIBURN gold medal winner has just released an excellent new Harmonia Mundi CD of piano pieces by Alexander Scriabin. (The composer died at age 43 from septicemia caused, according to some reports, by an insect sting.) Eschewing the use of folk music then popular with Russian composers, Scriabin’s early music was conspicuously influenced by Chopin, then Liszt, and later Debussy and Schoenberg. Kholodenko’s program, which includes the fourth and fifth sonatas, the Poème tragique and Poème satanique, crosses all these styles and in the avant-garde pieces seems to anticipate the music of Olivier Messiaen. Many locals will recall his solo concert for the Carmel Music Society in the season after he won the Cliburn. Kholodenko’s artistry and sensitivity remain at the highest level. This is his ninth CD so far. It’s a treat to see and hear his discography growing. SM 

SUMMERTIME

ANDREA MOTIS and colleagues

FRESH REVIEWS

PIANIST YOONIE HAN plays Reynaldo Hahn in Aptos. CARMEL BACH FEST’S Chorale concert at Carmel Mission Basilica. Click HERE

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST at Santa Cruz Shakespeare. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK  

CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORAY MUSIC opens first full weekend of concerts in Santa Cruz. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET opens at PacRep in Carmel. David Ives’ VENUS IN FUR opens August 7 at SC Shakespeare. 

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor