Weekly Update, Oct 8, 2013

What a weekend of music!

If, as Mark Twain noted, “an expert is just some guy from out of town,” I am delighted to welcome John Orlando as a PAMB out-of-town expert. John, retired piano professor at Cabrillo College and a resident of Aptos, was blown away by the Sunday piano recital in Carmel by Vadym Kholodenko, gold medalist of this year’s Van Cliburn competition. Read John’s over-the-moon rave on our Music Reviews page.

John is well known in the Monterey Bay community for the Distinguished Artists concert series which he founded nearly 30 years ago in conjunction with Cabrillo College. Now he operates the Distinguished Artists independently and, unique in the county, is the only presenter who brings in an entire season of top keyboard talent from all over. (Occasionally, another instrument is featured.) Upcoming is concert pianist Soheil Nasseri, born to Persian parents in Southern California and now based in Berlin. Nasseri has garnered critical raves in major music capitals of the world. Though he has a large repertoire, including many new works, Beethoven has become a focus during the last few years. For his concert in Santa Cruz, October 19th, he’ll perform an all-Beethoven program. You can get more about Nasseri on the internet and specifics about his Santa Cruz recital at John’s website, www.distinguishedartists.org

On the same page as John’s comments about Kholodenko you’ll also find my reviews of the Days & Nights Festival chamber music program last Friday in Carmel and the Watsonville debut of Daniel Stewart as the Santa Cruz Symphony’s new music director. Moreover, Philip Pearce has weighed in with coverage of PacRep’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Carmel’s outdoor Forest Theater. His comments can be found on our Theater Reviews page.

Have a look at our Calendar page to see what’s coming up this week. On Saturday, opera lovers get a rare opportunity to hear popular “Arias in Autumn” at Monterey’s Golden State Theatre, sung by Susan Gundunas, Malin Fritz, Christopher Bengochea and Peter Tuff, with the orchestra conducted by Carl Christensen. It’s a production by Monterey Opera, a ‘company’ that surfaces rarely but almost always with polished gems. Also, the Santa Cruz Chamber Players’ season opens with performances Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Aptos. The program of trios by Hungarian luminaries Liszt, Bartók and Dohnanyi will be led by violinist Roy Malan. And you’ll find a goodly load of jazz this week at Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz.

Stewart Robertson was in town last month to conduct Don Giovanni at Hidden Valley in Carmel Valley. (We were apparently the only ones to critique it, as posted to our Music Reviews page.) Stewart, who has homes in Carmel Valley, Florida and Scotland, recently released a CD of rare Schumann works on the Arteschumannk label, with Artek’s founder and world famous concert violinist Elmar Oliveira. The CD documents a live concert last March in Boca Raton with Stewart’s Atlantic Classical Orchestra. The program includes the German composer’s Herrmann und Dorothea overture, the Overture, Scherzo and Finale, and the Violin Concerto in D Minor. This is a terrific package of overlooked gems. The influence of them on Brahms is unmistakable. The CD is rounded out with a fascinating conversation about the concerto between Oliveira and Robertson.

For the run-up to Halloween, magician Ken Cusson’s Saltshaker Theater is touring Polter-Heist, the “Hilarious New Mystery Dinner Theater Experience” at various restaurants in Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula. You can get the thrills, chills, frights and other scary details at http://saltshakertheater.com/

Scott MacClelland, editor