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

Santa Cruz Symphony — Pianist Yuja Wang Returns


Faithful supporters of the Santa Cruz Symphony under the direction of Music Director Daniel Stewart were treated to rare, innovative programming, in a special sixth concert of its 2016-2017 season featuring Yuja Wang — certainly one of the most sought after pianists in the world. In her first performance with the Santa Cruz Symphony in February at Civic Center and Mello Center Wang created a sensation performing the Concerto No. 5 by Prokofiev and Concerto No. 2 by Johannes Brahms. Subsequently. it was Yuja Wang who having enjoyed her first Santa Cruz appearances who suggested this special return engagement.  Read full story

Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era, String quartet

Steinway Society the Bay Area presents Sofya Gulyak in Recital

On Sunday, May 7, the Bay Area Steinway Society presented the distinguished Russian pianist Sofya Gulyak in what amounted to a monumental concert! The venue was The Petit Trianon in San Jose. The piano used for this performance was a magnificent 2005 New York Steinway, arguably one of the very finest pianos to be found anywhere! Under the hands of Ms Gulyak it sounded heavenly.

The challenging program consisted of Sonata Op. 33 No. 1 by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832); Seven works from the Nutcracker Suite by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1853) transcribed by Mikhail Pletnev (b. 1957); Prelude and Fugue in D flat Major, Op. 87 No. 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975); Four Fairy Tales by Nikolai Medtner (1879-1951) and Piano Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82. And for the encore, a beautiful, haunting realization of the Adagio from the Concerto for Oboe in D minor by the Venetian composer Alessandro Marcello (1673-1747) transcribed by J S Bach. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano

Santa Cruz Symphony — Verdi’s Requiem

Arguably, an excellent performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s (1813-1901) Requiem Mass is as familiar and popular as his world-renowned operas, and a superb performance can be profoundly moving. Eloquently attired Maestro Danny Stewart with Santa Cruz Symphony in conjunction with the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, well prepared by Director Cheryl Anderson, provided just such an experience to close the 2016-17 Santa Cruz Symphony season. It was monumental and compelling throughout the 90-minute performance! The May concert coincides with the premiere performance composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, Italian poet whom Verdi admired. The first performance took place on May 22, 1874 in the San Marco Cathedral, Milan. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Orchestral, Santa Cruz Symphony

Santa Cruz Symphony – “Fratres” by Avro Pärt


Composer Arvo Pärt                       

On Sunday, March 26, at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts, the audience was once again treated to Director Daniel Stewart’s innovative programming for the season’s fourth concert. The concert opened with Fratres (Brothers – 1977) by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt) (b. 1935). Arvo Pärt’s creative career under the harsh rule of the former Soviet Union  left much to be desired, a common experience by many Soviet composers of that time. The Soviet policy of “see no evil” (art), “hear no evil” (“modern”, Western contemporary music) and “speak no evil” (literature, poetry) forced many either to flee to Western sanctuary or conform! Pärt elected to convert to Russian Orthodoxy, a conversion that annoyed the Soviets, but allowed him to expand his spiritual life, lead him to embrace sacred music and mysticism that labeled him a “spiritual minimalist.” Read full story

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

Santa Cruz Symphony: Yuja Wang Triumphs

                                 Yuja Wang 

Ever since Maestro Danny Stewart announced the Spring 2017 Santa Cruz concert schedule and revealed Yuja Wang would perform not one, but two piano concerti, the excitement began and culminated into reality on Sunday, at the Mello Center in Watsonville. The concert sold out! More than 300 enthusiasts attended the Friday Open Rehearsal at the Civic and received a taste of the musical “tour de force” that was unleashed at Sunday’s concert. At the rehearsal intermission Yuja was engulfed by young and old alike and the young received special attention by photo taking and just being close to a famous musical “super star.” By all accounts Yuja enjoyed the excitement in entertaining style! Read full story

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