Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

FIRST NIGHT MONTEREY will host its annual New Year’s Eve welcome to 2021. They have teamed up with other First Night organizations to bring you a unique New Year’s Eve celebration that will feature performances from Heartstrings, Dirty Cello, Black Irish, Fields of Eden with Kiki Wow, MC Lars, SpectorDance, Art, Kid’s Night Out art activities and youth performances. From Classical to Jazz, Blues to Rock, Samba to Folk, First Night Monterey will have a virtual line-up of performances designed to delight the entire family. PACREP hosts “The Beat Goes On,” a live drive-in tribute concert at the Monterey Fairgrounds featuring Davitt Felder, David Schulz, Don Dally, Lydia Lyons and Daniel Simpson, backed by Southern California’s tribute band The Echo Boomers. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

TIEN-HSIN CINDY WU

VIOLINIST/VIOLIST, who recently relocated here from New York, hoped to perform outdoors at her new home in Corral de Tierra on December 13. Rain put an end to that plan. But we should have given her a proper introduction. Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu enjoys a worldwide reputation as a concerto soloist and sought-after chamber musician. Praised by the Seattle Times as “Simply marvelous,” Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Cindy has collaborated in concerts with renowned artists such as Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, Leila Josefowicz, Ida Kavafian, Cho-Liang Lin, Midori, Thomas Quasthoff, Yuja Wang, Jon Kimura Parker and members of the Alban Berg, Guarneri, Orion, and Tokyo string quartets at prominent venues like the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and festivals such as Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. Cindy is a recipient of many awards including the Milka Violin Artist Prize from the Curtis Institute of Music, and third prize at the International Violin Competition of David Oistrakh. She has taught violin, chamber music, and string pedagogy at the University of Southern California. She is currently the Music Director of New Asia Chamber Music Society. Monterey Bay chamber music lovers who have attended Music@Menlo may well have heard her play there. She and her husband, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute at the Monterey Presidio and a high-level computer programmer, have spent much of this year developing online projects that they will soon share with the community. Click HERE

AMERICAN ORCHESTRA LEAGUE JUMPS GUN

THEIR CIRCULAR of December 21 crowed about their inclusion in the COVID-19 Relief Bill. Then Trump refused to sign it. But then reversed himself. Click HERE

NOTABLE DEATHS, 2020

INCOMPLETE, FROM THE WORLD of film, television, music, theater and sports. Click HERE

NOTABLE CLASSICAL MUSIC DEATHS, 2020

INCOMPLETE list includes pianists Peter Serkin and Fou Ts’ong, violinists Ida Haendel, Camilla Wicks, Ivry Gitlis. Many more have fallen victim to COVID-19.

CHARLES SHERE, 1935-2020

BAY AREA classical guru for six decades. Click HERE

MEET SYMPHONIE CONSTANT

MONTEREY SOPRANO sings Debussy’s Night of Stars. She once sang with Camerata Singers of Monterey County and is a graduate from CSU Monterey Bay. (You know you’ve seen her, even if you’re not sure where. When you do, let her know how much she is valued.)

 

THE PERFORMING ARTS MUST GO ON

TAMARA ROJO of the English National Ballet demands your attention. The view from across the pond. Click HERE  

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

FREEMAN’S OWN

IT WILL SURPRISE no one who chooses to reside in the Monterey Bay area that this is—in normal times anyway—a hotbed of classical music. Often, that’s precisely the reason for such relocations. (See above introduction to Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu.) As this unique homage to the parents of Freeman brothers, Robert and James, both professional musicians, reveals it’s often the familial glue that holds the extended family of classical musicians together. Robert Freeman is no stranger to the Monterey Peninsula; he was still head of the Eastman School in the 1980s when Summer Music Monterey, a program run by the late, great Ruth Fenton, contracted with Freeman to bring Eastman faculty to her classical and jazz camps on the campus of Stevenson School. (That program was a partner in founding today’s Youth Music Monterey.) The music on this new innova CD, Three Tributes, is comprised of The Red Snapper by Pulitzer-winner Kevin Puts (also well known for his appearances at the Cabrillo Festival and Chamber Music Monterey Bay) of 2005, Romanza for Violin and Chamber Orchestra of 2007 by Andrea Clearfield and Sonata for Two Pianos of 2010 by the universally essential Gunther Schuller (1925-2015). The Puts piece was motivated, tongue in cheek, as a companion to Franz Schubert’s Piano Quintet “Trout” whose final movement is a set of variations on Schubert’s song “Die Forelle,” based on a German folk poem. After a darkly turbulent first movement and will-o-the-wisp scherzo, the long third movement finale of Puts variations sets verses from a poem by Jack Brannon, itself inspired by Paul Gaido, owner of Galveston’s most popular seafood restaurant and a co-commissioner. Where the Schubert paints the fisherman as melodramatic villain, Puts makes his bad guy far more ominous and menacing, yet ultimately circumspect and spooky. What’s not to like? (Members of the quintet include two from the Miró Quartet who are also Carmel favorites.) The 20-minute Romanza was commissioned by James Freeman when he was artistic director of Orchestra 2001.

Robert and James Freeman with their parents, Florence and Henry, 1992

Gloria Justen takes the solo here, in a hesitating search for direction by way of scales and arpeggios, à la The Lark Ascending. Soon a rhythmic pulse stirs action that, like rapids on a river, adds chaos and anxiety, replete with interjections from the percussion; the violin keeps its head above the tumult, but not without pushback, including a sudden solo cadenza and expansive melody into another cadenza. Now the orchestra returns in kind, echoing the violin with a new comfort zone that carries through. A pleasure to hear Schuller’s Sonata for Two Pianos for three reasons: it is concentrated, expressively expansive and played by the brothers Freeman. The CD will be released on January 22. SM

HARK! WHENCE COMES THAT SWEET SOUND?

ARE YOU SURE? Or deceived? Click HERE

NOT A WONDERFUL WORLD

WHY LOUIS ARMSTRONG was hated by so many. Click HERE

TUBA SKINNY

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor