NEW THIS WEEK
DRIVE IN TO LIVE JAZZ at Monterey Fairgrounds Wednesday courtesy PacRep. SHAKESPEARE’S COMEDY OF ERRORS in a live Zoom reading from UC Santa Cruz on Friday. PLAYWRIGHT/ACTOR HOWARD BURNHAM loves Shakespeare on Saturday. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FEST hosts Tim Rayborn (pictured above) performing on Ancient and Medieval harps, lyres, drums, flutes, and voice in stories and songs from the first millennium of Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking cultures, Saturday evening. BRUCE FORMAN & GARY MEEK return to Kuumbwa Jazz on Monday. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE
MUSIC FESTIVAL NEWS
CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL
THE CARMEL BACH FESTIVAL has announced its live and in-person 2021 Festival, October 23—November 5. The two-week Festival will feature a wide array of Main Concerts at the Sunset Cultural Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea and additional events in other venues subject to their becoming available. “After considering all relevant factors, we are now committed to presenting a Festival which will safely enable the largest number of our dedicated patrons once again to enjoy the superlative live music for which the Festival is known,” said Carmel Bach Festival President Cyril Yansouni. Highlights of the 2021 festival include Bach’s Mass in B-Minor, Brandenburg Concerti, Mozart’s Symphony No 40, Handel’s Ode to St. Cecilia, and the traditional and unique Chorale concert, among others. More specific information and ticket availability will be announced at a later date. The 2021 Festival will also honor Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Paul Goodwin as he concludes an 11-year tenure as the artistic leader of the Festival. His replacement will be introduced in 2022 when three finalists will share duties.
MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL
A 2021 SEASON at the Monterey Fairgrounds remains a dream. Writing in the Monterey Herald on April 14, Beth Peerless couldn’t get any closer to an answer than a comment from Festival Deputy Director Elizabeth Welden-Smith, “We are intending to have the festival, but are waiting to see if state and county guidelines will allow for a festival to take place. We are working on a tentative lineup, but do not have any details to announce at this time.”
CABRILLO FEST’S ‘DISASTER’ COMMISSION
THE CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC has commissioned Santa Cruz-born composer and multimedia artist Scott Ordway (pictured) to create a new work for orchestra and vocal ensemble. The End of Rain weaves together stories and words from regions of the Western US recently impacted by wildfire and drought. To be performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, led by conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and featuring the eight-member, Grammy Award-winning vocal band, Roomful of Teeth, the work is scheduled to premiere during the Festival’s 2022 live performance season. Of the concept, Ordway says: “In recent years, the western United States has experienced wildfire and drought with catastrophic frequency and intensity. These events force us from our homes, devastate our communities, and destroy forests, farms, ranches, and orchards. We can see the physical devastation. We can measure its economic impact. But how does it change us internally? How does it alter our fundamental relationship to place?” The project’s website (click the link below) is presented in both English and Spanish, and welcomes submissions in any language. This is the third in a series of Cabrillo Festival commissions reflecting on the wildfires and climate crisis. To collect the words that will form the foundation of the work, Ordway and the Festival are asking members of the public to share their individual experiences of wildfire and drought. The collected stories and words will be translated into a musical form, as Ordway says, “in an attempt to better understand how we feel about our evolving relationship to place, home, and security in a changing world.” Stories can be shared until May 15, 2021 by clicking HERE
FOREST THEATER REOPENS
CARMEL’S OUTDOOR THEATER will open for screenings of The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland, April 24 and 25, 8pm.
SF BAY AREA PERFORMANCE VENUES TO REOPEN
AUDIENCE RESPONSE remains uncertain. Click HERE
MARGARET ATWOOD MYTHOLOGIZES LAURIE ANDERSON
HOW GABBY GIFFORDS INSPIRES
BRAIN-INJURED CONGRESSWOMAN plays the notoriously difficult (French) horn with super-human determination. Click HERE
CAN SINGERS ACTUALLY SHATTER GLASS?
A CONVERGENCE of factors must be at play. Click HERE
HOW DID WE GET THE 12-TONE SCALE?
THE HOT-BUTTON ARGUMENT among musicians in 16th century Europe was how to tune the scale. The natural overtone series left tuning a keyboard virtually impossible. A century’s worth of arguments and dead-end solutions with hopelessly conflicted theories to justify them finally found consensus with an artificial solution: the well-tempered scale. The result was an explosion of new instrumental music starting in the late 16th century and continuing unabated ever since. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) explains it in six concise minutes.
THE SOUND OF SPIDERWEBS
MIT researchers scanned intricate spiderwebs with a laser and turned them into music. It sounds just as creepy as you might think. Click HERE
THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN, concert works that feature accordion are not as rare as you might think. Astor Piazzolla, the man who took tango from the dance club into the concert hall, wrote prolifically for his own bandoneon. But Buenos Aires is a long way from Copenhagen, so let’s find out how Poul Ruders’s new Dream Catcher CD on Bridge bears up with countryman Bjarke Mogensen’s mastery of the instrument. The title Dream Catcher is Mogensen’s arrangement of a movement from Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean, originally for accordion and string quartet. Marked dolce sognante (sweetly dreaming) this image of the Ojibwan ‘filter’ that captures bad dreams and only allows good ones through sings a lullaby in the most subtle and sensitive terms. While it dates from 2004, Ruders’ Third Symphony, also called Dream Catcher, is heard here in a 2009 revision of the original, for orchestra, of 2005-06. The symphony was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation and premiered in Denmark. The composer explains that while the symphony draws on the same movement from the Serenade, it goes behind the scenes to “the tale of Beauty being devoured by the Beast, a symphonic journey with a less-than-happy ending, open to all sorts of individual, metaphorical interpretations.” Indeed, the first of its two movements opens with a nightmarish eruption on the orchestra. That anxiety soon settles into a quietly restless passage on keening strings. By and by, winds and brass join the strings underpinning the restless mood. Just before it ends, a highly dissonant passage offers no respite. The second movement, tied to the first, is charged with rhythmic energy with no diminution of clashing anxiety. Tolling bells signal the end of the 25-minute nightmare. If you need a good night’s sleep, go back to the accordion solo. Meanwhile, bravo to the Odense Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Scott Yoo, our friend from the Mozaic Festival in San Luis Obispo. Rain, Trance, Haiku, Smoke, Song Link, Twilight and Wolf Moon comprise the “Seven Pillars of Music” in Ruders’ Sound and Simplicity for Accordion and Symphony Orchestra of 2018. In this case, Mogensen and the Odense orchestra are conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing. The individual titles of the half-hour piece plant seeds of expectation in the listener’s ear that guide the experience. The accordion is sometimes a soloist, sometimes a concertante member of the orchestra. This music is dreamily atmospheric and colorful, a kind of magical mystery tour worth taking over and over. It ends with a punctuating flourish. For the record, this is the 16th volume of music by Ruders on the Bridge label. SM
REVIVING COMPOSERS of the past shows no sign of letting up. Nor should it for the once-bitten listener. Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915) is probably best remembered for his contribution to the solo piano repertoire, even though in recital programs these days he usually gets relegated to the occasional encore. (His reputation in the concert hall depends on a handful of ambitiously exotic orchestral works with titles like Poem of Ecstasy, Prometheus and the unfinished Mysterium in which the composer, unique among Russians of his generation, flirted with atonality. International pianist Russell Hirshfield takes time out from a vast repertoire to focus on Scriabin’s foundational years. The 24 Preludes, Impromptus, Sonata-Fantasy, four more preludes and a pair of etudes all date from the 1890s. The influence of Chopin and Liszt (himself an atonal experimenter) is never hard to find. (The ever-popular Etude, Op 8, No 12, included here, overshadows most on this CD for its striking resemblance to the heroic Chopin.) Yet the composer’s own voice is constantly pushing through. These works display a formal discipline that in the later tone-poem seems to indulge ever-deeper in fantasy; colors came to stand for notes, particular aromas were planned for performances. If you want to meet the early Scriabin, here’s a best bet from Navona Records. SM
IS SCHUMANN SONG-CYCLE PATRONIZING?
FRAUENLIEBE UND –LEBEN, for all its beauty, portrays a woman’s life in male-dominated domesticity. Soprano Carolyn Sampson defends her new recording despite texts that define a woman solely in relation to the man and her role as wife and mother. Audio excerpts included. Click HERE
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor