Weekly Update


Steve Tosh, local composer of prodigious talents, whose newest creations will be heard this Saturday at the Golden Bough in Carmel.


Two Pulitzer winning composers will appear at two festivals. Caroline Shaw, who won it in 2013, will attend the premiere of her Carmel Bach Festival commission on opening night, July 19. (Her nine-member vocal band, Roomful of Teeth, includes Estelí Gomez, a Watsonville native.) Jennifer Higdon, who won the 2010 prize for her Violin Concerto, will be one of 13 composers in residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music for the Composer’s Workshop and to hear her Concerto 4-3 for string trio and orchestra.

Higdon has also completed her first opera, Cold Mountain, based on Charles Frazier’s historical Civil War novel (memorably filmed by Anthony Minghella with Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger.) Higdon said she spent 20 months, eight hours a day, to complete the opera, which will premiere next year in Santa Fe. Her librettist is Gene Scheer who provided Jake Heggie with the libretto for his acclaimed opera Moby Dick. (Cabrillo Festival alum composer Kevin Puts won the 2012 Pulitzer for his opera Silent Night.)


For tough economic reasons, CMS co-presidents Anne and Peter Thorp made the hard decision to suspend the Society’s annual competition in favor of a bi-annual piano competition. That makes this Saturday’s instrumental competition the last of its kind for the foreseeable future. The event will occupy Sunset Center with cellos, violins, harps, saxophones and more from 10:30am to 3pm, followed by the winners’ recital at 8pm. (Last year’s winner, pianist Michael Noble, performs Friday night at the same venue.)


A splendid new Bridge CD arrived in last week’s post. It’s a solo recital by one of America’s finest piano artists, Gilbert Kalish, now almost 80, who says he was “a bit nonplussed” when Bridge producers Becky and David Starobin, whom he Kalishdescribes as “irreplaceable,” tendered their offer. Kalish is best known for his chamber music and collaborations with major artists, notably the late mezzo Jan DeGaetani and the star soprano Dawn Upshaw, and for his advocacy of new music. His discography is huge, including five albums of the infrequently played piano sonatas by Haydn. From 1985 to 1997 he was Chairman of the Faculty at the Tanglewood Festival. Today, Kalish heads the Performance Activities department of SUNY Stony Brook. For this CD, recorded nine months ago, Kalish chose late works by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert. He opens Haydn’s popular Sonata No. 52 in E-flat with a thoughtful, rather than bravura, read, unlike those young Turks who see it as cannon volleys. But he fires up his muskets for the presto finale. He goes on to enchanting adventures of Beethoven’s rarely played Bagatelles, Op. 119, then explores Schubert’s Sonata in B-flat (D960) with keen imagination and convincing argument. He reveals the vast scope and character of the piece with exceptional insight and authority. As CDs go, this is a definite keeper.


The UCSC Opera Company gives three performances of Kirke Mechem’s Tartuffe, based on the Molière comedy Tartuffe, or the Impostor. Since its premiere in San Francisco in 1980, the opera has been seen in more than 400 performances in six countries. See our CALENDAR for details.

Scott MacClelland, editor