Author Archives: David Beech

Decoda Ensemble earns ovation for “Gumboots”

Decoda, the pioneering Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, is a group of young musicians with a mission. Not only do they perform a wide range of music (including modern works) for various combinations of instruments, they also bring their enthusiasm in other ways to the communities they visit. Prior to this concert at Sunset Center on Saturday evening, February 24th, 2018, they had given public master classes to several chamber music groups of Youth Music Monterey. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Chamber music, Romantic Era, String quartet

Elaine Douvas leads Oboe Celebration at Hidden Valley

Making her eleventh annual appearance at Hidden Valley on June 12th, 2017, Elaine Douvas, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, led from the front in a celebration of the great tradition of American oboe playing. As Hidden Valley impresario Peter Meckel put it to the audience, we were in the presence of four generations of oboists – not only Ms. Douvas and her former students Christopher Gaudi (established) and Liam Boisset (freshly graduated), but also the late beloved John Mack, former principal of the Cleveland Orchestra, who both taught Elaine Douvas, and later persuaded her to continue his series of master classes at Hidden Valley. We could probably add a fifth generation peering down from the Hidden Valley rafters – the spirit of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Marcel Tabuteau, under whose spell John Mack had fallen when studying at the Curtis Institute. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Hidden Valley Music Seminars, Oboe

Monterey Symphony Reaches New Heights in Mahler

Gustav Mahler

The culmination of the Monterey Symphony’s concert at Sunset Center on Sunday afternoon, April 23rd, was a convincing performance of Mahler’s 4th Symphony in which they sounded like a big-city orchestra. This was a remarkable achievement by conductor Max Bragado-Darman, mellifluous soprano Cyndia Sieden, and the players, after only a couple of days of rehearsal and two previous performances. Kudos to the Monterey Symphony team who recently held auditions yielding twelve new musicians to the orchestra: Max Bragado Darman, the orchestra audition committee, the staff, and personnel manager Drew Ford. Special kudos also to acting principal horn Alex Camphouse, principal clarinet Julia Sarah Bonomo, and acting principal bassoon Nikolasa Kuster, who all made distinguished contributions. And of course, this being Mahler, we heard a large complement of orchestral instruments, including sleigh bells, piccolo and E flat clarinet, English horn, bass clarinet, contra-bassoon, tuba, harp, and bass drum. The orchestral players all rose to the occasion – none more so than the strings, who made uniformly beautiful and expressive sounds throughout — a quality that can be much harder to achieve in a less than full-time orchestra than brilliance in the more soloistic winds and brass. That said, the horn section also earned high honors, taking their cue from the confident sonority of the acting principal.

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Archived in these categories: Monterey Symphony

Curtis Chamber Orchestra at Sunset Center – Mozart String Concertos

Mozart image 7-21-12

The Curtis Chamber Orchestra, composed of students from the world renowned Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, completed its Carmel offering of Mozart’s String Concertos in Sunset Center on Saturday afternoon, January 14th, in an event hosted by the Monterey Symphony Orchestra. We were entertained by masterful performances of three conccrti, led by the soloists without need for a conductor, exhibiting a surprising variety of styles, given that these were all relatively early works by a single composer, in the same three-movement format.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Concerto, Monterey Symphony

Monterey Symphony Chamber Players – Sanchez Excels


Clarinetist Steve Sánchez joined the string players Christina Mok and Tina Minn (violins), Chad Kaltinger (viola), and Drew Ford (cello) on Friday evening, October 7th for the inaugural concert of a series presented by the Monterey Symphony Chamber Players in the friendly acoustic of All Saints’ Church, Carmel.

While there is no shortage of high-quality chamber music concerts in the area, they are typically performed by groups who play and tour together full-time, and hence tend to program works for their exact combination of instruments. This new venture of the Monterey Symphony has the opportunity to fill a niche by offering greater variety of ensembles within each program, and so we heard three works, all with different instrumentation – two of them rarely heard, while the third was an acknowledged masterpiece.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, All Saints' Church, Chamber music, Monterey Symphony