Author Archives: Josef Sekon, D.M.A.

Aizuri String Quartet — Fabulous Artistry

Aizuri String Quartet

The Aizuri String Quartet presented a most impressive concert Thursday on March 5 at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz as part of the Distinguished Artists series. The quartet draws its name from the unique Japanese wood block prints usually in Prussian Blue color and quite valuable. Members of this superb quartet based in NYC are Miho Saegusa and Emma Frucht violins, Ayane Kozasa viola and Karen Ouzounian cello. 

The concert program consisted of Antonín Dvořák’s Cypresses; Lembit Beecher’s These Memories May Be TrueArmenian Folk Songs by Soghomon Soghomonian, an ordained Armenian priest commonly known as Komitas. These five works were based on Armenian folk songs and arranged by Sergei Aslamazian. At the Purchaser’s Option by Rhiannon Giddens and the String Quartet in D minor Op. 56, Voices Intimae, by Sibelius concluded the innovative program. 

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


Santa Cruz Symphony: Catharsis

                     

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) composed his Fifth Symphony in 1901-02 and conducted the first performance in Cologne on October 18, 1904. This symphony has presented us with the musical equivalent of a split personality, the same personality that in many ways reflected Mahler’s life. A musical composition of such polar opposites presented side by side: tragedy and joy, depression and mania, pain and pleasure, despair and hope, and more. In his Fifth Symphony Mahler composed these opposing attitudes and held them together using a tripartite structure that lays out an interesting formal course beginning with despair advancing towards ultimate joy. But as with his personal life, not without trials and tribulations. This challenge is by no means an easy undertaking for any conductor to render a masterful performance. 

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Archived in these categories: Orchestral, Santa Cruz Symphony


Bay Area Steinway Series — Pianist Albert Cano Smit

Albert Cano Smit

Despite the venue challenges the Bay Area Steinway Series has experienced, it continues to present many of the world’s most impressive keyboard artists as witnessed by the December 8 performance by Albert Cano Smit at the West Valley College in Saratoga. Although Swiss-born Albert Cano Smit won his first international competition at age 14 , it was his winning First Prize in the 2017 Naumburg Competition that sent up the red flag of special attention.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Romantic Era


Santa Cruz Symphony — Horizons

Maestro Daniel Stewart

Esa-Pekka Salonen is certainly one of today’s finest and most adventuresome composers. In 2018 the Santa Cruz Symphony under Stewart’s imaginative programming, ventured out into the world of contemporary music by presenting Salonen’s Karawane, a work that incorporates a poem set in synthetic language by Dadaist poet Hugo Ball, by all consideration a huge success. Now the Maestro turned to yet another of Salonen’s musical creations, his eclectic 30-minute Violin Concerto, composed in 2009, in a performance featuring virtuoso Concert Master Nigel Armstrong.  

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Orchestral, Santa Cruz Symphony


Santa Cruz Symphony Ascendance

Soloist Jon Nakamatsu

On Sunday, October 13, the Santa Cruz Symphony under the direction of Maestro Danny Stewart opened its 62nd season at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts with three works that covered a time span of some 250 years. In perfect tune with Maestro Stewart’s imaginative programming, the concert offered works the audience knows and loves, a concerto from Beethoven’s growth and development period, one of Stravinsky’s finest ballet scores and a new work by Mason Bates. The 2019-2020 season was off to a most exciting start. 

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Concerto, Santa Cruz Symphony