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


Carmel Music Society opens its new season with pianist Olga Kern

Olga Kern

Presented by the Carmel Music Society, Russian-American pianist Olga Kern made a triumphant return yesterday afternoon to Sunset Center in Carmel. Kern was elegantly dressed in a flowing red designer gown for the first half of the recital and in a flowing silver designer gown for the second half. Not only did her appearance make quite an impression, but so did her stage presence. An engaging smile and a charming manner when speaking to the audience won us over before she even played a note.

Peter Thorp, President of the Carmel Music Society had added some new technology to the afternoon’s recital. A video camera suspended over the piano keyboard projected a view from above of the pianist’s hands during the performances onto a screen over the stage. Thus, we could enjoy a side view from the audience plus a video top view of the pianist’s hands.

After a warmup performance of a rarely-heard Beethoven set of Variations on a Theme by Salieri, Kern settled in to perform one of the greatest works Beethoven ever composed for the keyboard, the Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, known as the “Waldstein.” We heard a masterful performance of the first movement that held our attention throughout Beethoven’s presentation of compelling musical ideas, its powerful development section and satisfying recapitulation and coda. The brief second movement, Adagio Molto, served as an introduction to the concluding Rondo that was capped off by the Prestissimo finale. Kern brought a lot of charm, vitality and easy virtuosity to her performance of this sonata and made it look easy in the process.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Carmel Music Society, Classical Era, Piano


Carmel Presbyterian Community Concert

            Fall has arrived! With the crisp air come favored activities: Enjoying wonderful fruits and vegetables, making pies and jellies and jams, Football games, and Opening Concerts. What Fun! For quite a few years, I supported my children by spending many Friday evenings sitting in Bleachers and cheering. Truth be told, I paid more attention during “Halftime” than “Game time” due to the activities my kids favored. Those were happy Friday evenings for the most part. Now, I’m content to attend a few concerts when the leaves begin to turn fabulous colors.

            To whet my appetite this fall, I chose to attend a Community Concert. Sponsored by Carmel Presbyterian Church, six local musicians gathered Friday, October 4, 2019 to offer a wide variety of music. There were solo pieces along with duets; even a Piano Trio. One of the organists at Carmel Presbyterian, Eun Ha Chung, was the busiest as she played solo pieces on the piano and the organ. She also served as accompanist for most of the other musicians. Eun Ha is a talented pianist. The instruments at Carmel Presbyterian Church were both used to their advantage.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Cello, Chamber music, Organ, Piano


Pianist Chetan Tierra — Return of a Native Son

Chetan Tierra

If you weren’t at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon, September 8th, you missed a great piano recital, presented by the Distinguished Artists Concert Series’ director John Orlando as a special event, not part of the regular series, by native son Chetan Tierra from Ben Lomond, now in his mid 30’s and living/teaching in San Diego with his lovely wife, also a pianist.

This writer first reviewed him around 20 years ago when he was a student of Hans Boepple and a “Wunderkind” — I often listen in my car to Tierra’s super CD from 2007. For several years, he has focused on a rock band; but, fortunately for musicians everywhere, he has put that behind him and returned to the classical “fold” with added maturity and intensity.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Piano, Romantic Era


Santa Cruz Symphony — Souvenir de Florence

                                  

Daniel Stewart

The Santa Cruz Symphony audience that attended the Sunday, September 15, Souvenir De Florence performance at Samper Recital Hall at Cabrillo College experienced a musical treat it will remember for many years. Most impressive was the exuberant, well deserved standing ovation that greeted Maestro Danny Stewart and his ensemble upon their stage entry!

Five wonderfully talented symphony musicians plus guest violinist Rebecca Jackson completed the sextet: Maestro Danny Stewart viola, Concertmaster Nigel Armstrong violin, Chad Kaltinger viola, Saul Richmond-Rakerd cello and Principal Cellist Jonah Kim rounded out this amazing group of artists/musicians. Considering the high level of musicianship required to perform the three works selected for the concert, one could clearly believe they have been together as a performing group for some time and more importantly rehearsed at length to achieve the high degree of sophisticated musicianship and individual artistry. 

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