Weekly Magazine

THIS WEEK

JURA MARGULIS to play the original piano version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. MUSIC IN MAY chamber music festival at Cabrillo’s Samper Recital Hall. CALIFORNIA ROOTS FESTIVAL’S weekend at the Monterey Fairgrounds. BARBERSHOP EXTRAVAGANZA at Carmel’s Unitarian Universalist. VLADA VOLKOVA-MORAN at Aptos Keyboard Series plays Bach on the new St John’s organ. SWEET JAZZ @ EMBASSY remembers Susan Helsten. For links to these and dozens of other live performance events, click on the display ads, left, or on our CALENDAR

NEW ORGAN AT ST JOHN’S

THE ORGAN (pictured above) was owned by the First Presbyterian Church in Marysville from 1869 until 2018 when it was sold to St John’s in Aptos for $1. Of course it cost a lot more to disassemble, move and reassemble. Moreover, it started out with a tracker action and was converted to pneumatic action. With the effort of leaders in the Marysville congregation it was rebuilt as a tracker pipe organ in the spirit of its 19th-century form by Manuel Rosales in 1981 and renamed Opus 7. Bill Visscher, locally well known as organist and organ builder, was part of the team at Rosales during the reconstruction and gave the inaugural concert last October. (Photo taken during a piano recital by Kate Liu.)

BACH FEST’S SUZANNE MUDGE GOING TO YMMC

YOUTH MUSIC MONTEREY COUNTY has announced its brass ensemble coach and Carmel Bach Festival community engagement director as its new executive director effective immediately following the 2019 Bach Festival. Click HERE 

ORCHESTRA IN THE SCHOOLS

STUDENT MUSICIANS will display their skills during a fundraiser this Thursday, May 23, 5 to 8pm, at the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club on Wharf II in Monterey.

CABRILLO FESTIVAL SPECIAL EVENT

TOMORROW (Wednesday), at 7pm in downtown Santa Cruz, UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Professor and feminist activist Bettina Aptheker will moderate a conversation with Judge Syda Cogliati, Attorney Anna M. Penrose-Levig, and Attorney Jessica Delgado about the significant cases and opinions Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has championed over the course of her career and the impact she has had on women’s equality, civil liberties, and racial justice under the law. The event will offer additional context to the premiere this summer of Kristin Kuster’s When There Are Nine. Click HERE 

MARIN ALSOP’S TAKI CONCORDIA NAMES NEW AWARDS

FORMER CABRILLO FEST music director’s foundation supports rising women conductors. Click HERE 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

2016 MARKED THE 400TH ANNIVERSARY of the death of William Shakespeare. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Hector Berlioz’ death. Shakespeare loomed huge in the life of the great French composer. Through the Irish actress Harriet Smithson’s performances in Paris of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz fell in love with both, even though he didn’t speak English. (He persuaded the actress to become his wife, with less than blissful results.) In all, Berlioz composed music inspired by both plays, as well as The Tempest, King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing. This splendid new Naxos release celebrates three of them, with the Lear and Béatrice et Bénédict overtures filling out the set. Though just released, the recordings were made in Lyon in 2014, halfway through conductor Leonard Slatkin’s tenure as the Lyon orchestra’s music director. Roméo et Juliette is a 95-minute “dramatic symphony” for solo voices, chorus and orchestra, with a French text by Émile Deschamps after Shakespeare (with English translation in the CD booklet). The solo voices, mezzo Marion Lebègue and tenor Julien Behr, like the chorus, serves as narrators, while the bass Frédéric Caton is Friar Laurence. Berlioz uses the orchestra to paint the story line programmatically, starting with furious fugue that represents the brawl between the Capulet and Montague adolescents. Arguably, Part Two of the three part score, is the heart of the work, with “Romeo Alone” (feeling sorry for himself), followed by the festive party at the Capulet house and the sensuous love scene. The imagery in this orchestral writing is vivid and unequivocal. Under Slatkin’s direction, it is also gorgeous. (Richard Wagner, who famously called Berlioz “devilishly smart,” pinched the two themes for Roméo et Juliette and, with a single note change each, concocted his themes for Tristan und Isolde.)

THE ONLY KNOWN SYMPHONY from the hand of Saint-Saëns is No. 3 “Organ,” a crowd-favorite. So this new CD will come to many—or at least the curious—as a surprise. The short (23-minute) Symphony No. 2 in A Minor, Op 55, is a scintillating piece dating from1859, that while making plentiful use of fugal writing is actually quite breezy. Swiss flutist and conductor Thierry Fischer has been the Utah Symphony’s music director since 2009, and has made many recordings with them. This latest on Hyperion label also includes the Symphony in F “Urbs Roma,” composed when Saint-Saëns was 23 for a concert society in Bordeaux. The composer later acted to suppress the 43-minute piece (also in four movements like the Second Symphony) but it is certainly worth listening to as a clue his later progress and for its own sake. For the famous Danse macabre, the orchestra’s concertmaster Madeline Adkins plays the snarky solo. SM   

REMEMBERING STEVE MARTLAND

INNOVATIVE post-minimalist English composer died six years ago at age 58. Click HERE  Martland with Bang on A Can

 

RESTORING NOTRE DAME

THE CENTER OF LEARNING AND SCHOLARSHIP in the 12th century produced organum, a crucial foundation for Western polyphony and, by extension, harmony. How much of the cathedral’s highly checkered past should be replicated after last month’s devastating fire? Click HERE  

CHINA’S ‘BEST LEAF MUSICIAN’

LOU WENJUN has an endless supply of instruments. Click HERE 

FRESH REVIEWS

MONTEREY SYMPHONY’S season finale; MONTEREY COUNTY COMPOSERS FORUM. Click HERE

LUCKY LINDY and WAITING FOR GODOT in Carmel. Click HERE

NEXT WEEK

HIDDEN VALLEY STRINGS in Carmel Valley and Santa Cruz. ROBERT WALTERS cor anglais recital at Hidden Valley. SMUIN BALLET in Carmel. MONTEREY PENINSULA COMMUNITY GOSPEL CHOIR. MONTEREY COUNTY POPS Memorial Day in Monterey. PACIFIC GROVE POPS ORCHESTRA. PACIFIC VOICES in Santa Cruz. TCHAIKOVSKY SPECTACULAR at Civic Auditorium. BELLINI’S OPERA NORMA in Santa Cruz. THE MIRACLE WORKER to open at The Western Stage

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor