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. 

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor